Blandford, George Fielding (DNB12)

BLANDFORD, GEORGE FIELDING (1829–1911), physician, born at Hindon, Wiltshire, on 7 March 1829, was only son of George Blandford, a medical practitioner who practised successively at Hindon, Hadlow in Kent, and Rugby. After education at Tonbridge school (1840–1) and at Rugby under Dr. Arnold (1841–8) Blandford matriculated at Oxford from Wadham College on 10 May 1848; he graduated B.A. in 1852, M.A. and M.B. in 1857, and M.D. in 1867. He began his medical studies at St. George's Hospital, London, in October 1852, was admitted a licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries in 1857, and M.R.C.S. England in 1858. In 1865 he delivered his first course of lectures on insanity at St. George's Hospital, and remained lecturer on psychological medicine until May 1902. At the Royal College of Physicians of London he became a member in 1860 and was elected a fellow in 1869; he acted as a councillor in 1897–9, and delivered the Lumleian lectures in 1895, taking as the subject 'The Diagnosis, Prognosis, and Prophylaxis of Insanity.'

Early in Blandford's career he became acquainted with Dr. A. J. Sutherland, like himself an Oxford medical graduate, who was physician to St. Luke's Hospital. Blandford often visited the hospital with Sutherland and took the holiday duty of the medical superintendent, Henry Stevens (cf. Minute of Committee, October 1857). From 1859 to 1863 he was resident medical officer at Blacklands House, a private asylum for gentlemen, owned by Dr. Sutherland. In 1863 he began to practise in lunacy privately, first in Clarges Street, then in Grosvenor Street, and finally in Wimpole Street, and acquired rapidly a large connection. He was appointed visiting physician to Blacklands House and its successor, Newlands House, Tooting, as well as to Otto House, posts which he retained until he retired from London in 1909. He was also for many years visiting physician to Featherstone Hall, Southall, and to Clarence Lodge, Clapham Park, both private asylums for ladies. From 1874 to 1895 he was the principal proprietor of the asylum at Minister House, Fulham, and when the premises became unsuitable, owing to the growth of London, Blandford pulled them down and converted the property into a building estate.

For forty-four years from 1857, when he became a member, he identified himself prominently with the Medico-Psychological Association of Great Britain and Ireland. A member of the council and of the educational and parliamentary committees, he gave as president in 1877 an important address on lunacy legislation, in which he described the evolution of the lunacy laws in this country down to the Acts of 1845, 1853, and 1862 which were then in force. In 1894, as president of the psychological section of the British Medical Association, he delivered an address on the prevention of insanity, in wlu'ch he made an important pronouncement on the development of neurotic affections attributable to the increased demands of modern life on the nervous system; he was of opinion that no man or woman should marry who has had an attack of insanity. From 1898 until his death he took an active part in the 'After Care Association' established to help poor patients who have been discharged from asylums for the insane. At the time of his death he was president of the Society for the Relief of the Widows and Orphans of Medical Men.

After his retirement from London he settled at Tunbridge Wells, where he died on 18 Aug. 1911 and was buried. In 1864 he married Louisa, only daughter of the Rev. George Holloway, by whom he had two sons and two daughters. Blandford was athletic in early life, and belonged for several years to the 2nd (South) Middlesex volunteers. He was also interested in art, literature, and music, showing skill in water-colour sketching and collecting from an early period Whistler's etchings, besides contributing a few unsigned articles to the 'Cornhill Magazine.'

Blandford's chief work was an admirably practical and comprehensive text-book, 'Insanity and its Treatment; Lectures on the Treatment, Medical and Legal, of Insane Patients' (Edinburgh 1871; 4th edit. 1892). The book was reissued in America, with a summary of the laws in force in the United States on the confinement of the insane, by Isaac Ray (Philadelphia 1871; 3rd edit, with the Types of Insanity, an illustrated guide in the physical diagnosis of mental disease, by Allan McLane Hamilton, New York 1886). A German translation by Dr. H. Kornfeld appeared at Berlin in 1878. Blandford also wrote valuable articles on 'Insanity' in the second (1894) and third (1902) editions of 'Quain's Dictionary of Medicine'; 'Prevention of Insanity' and 'Prognosis of Insanity' in 'Tuke's Dictionary of Psychological Medicine' (1892); and 'Insanity ' in the 'Twentieth Century Practice of Medicine' (1897). He was a frequent contributor to the 'Journal of Mental Science,' to the first twenty-four volumes of which he prepared an index.

[Journal of Mental Science, 1911, lvii. 753; Lancet, 19.11, ii. 733; Brit. Med. Journal, 1911, ii. 524; private information.]

D’A. P.