Churchill, John Spriggs Morss (DNB00)

CHURCHILL, JOHN SPRIGGS MORSS (1801–1875), medical publisher, third son of the Rev. James Churchill, a dissenting minister, by his wife, a daughter of Mr. George Morss, was born at Ongar in Essex, 4 Aug. 1801. He was educated at Henley grammar school, under the Rev. Dr. George Scobell. In 1816 he was bound an apprentice for seven years to Elizabeth Cox & Son, medical booksellers, of 39 High Street, Southwark. Having served his time he became a freeman of the Stationers’ Company, and then for about eighteen months was employed in the house of Longman & Co. Aided by the fortune of his wife, whom he married in 1832, he started in business on his own account, purchasing the old-established retail connection of Callow & Wilson, 16 Princes Street, Leicester Square. Churchill attended book sales and the sales of medical libraries all over the country, and issued an annual catalogue. The business increased, but not satisfactorily, owing to the new practice of ‘underselling.’ Churchill therefore began to publish, and one of the earliest productions of his press was Liston’s ‘Practical Surgery,’ 1837, of which repeated editions have been demanded. A well-known series of manuals followed. The first was Erasmus Wilson's ‘Anatomist’s Vade Mecum,’ 1840, which was succeeded by Dr. Golding Bird’s ‘Manual of Natural Philosophy, and Diagnosis of Urinary Deposits,’ 1844, and by Fownes’s ‘Manual of Chemistry.' Churchill relied on his own judgment, and had few failures. Of the numerous pamphlets, however, which his house was employed to produce, it is said that only one paid its expenses (Mr. Lawrence's ‘Hunterian Oration,’ 834). In 1838 Churchill became the publisher of the ‘British and Foreign Medical Review.’ At extremely low prices he brought out expensively illustrated works, such as ‘Medical Botany,’ edited by Dr. Stephenson and by his brother James Mores Churchill; Dalrymple's ‘Morbid Anatomy of the Eye,’ Maclise's ‘Surgical Anatomy,’ Sibson’s ‘Medical Anatomy,’ and other works. He issued the anonymous ‘Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation,’ 1844 [see Chambers, Robert]. From 1842 to 1847 he was the publisher of the ‘Lancet,’ and in 1850 he began the ‘Medical Times,’ with which the ‘Medical Gazette’ was amalgamated in 1852. In 1854 he removed from Princes Street to New Burlington Street, gave up retail trade, and confined his attention solely to publishing. He built a house at Wimbledon in 1852; in 1861 he was made a county magistrate. He finally settled in 1862 at Pembridge Square, Bayswater. For many years he was a great invalid; in July 1875 he went to Tunbridge Wells, where he died on 3 Aug. He was buried in Brompton cemetery. The publishing business is carried on by his two sons, John and Augustus Churchill, to whom he had resigned it on his retirement in 1870.

[Bookseller, September 1875, p. 782; Medical Times and Gazette, 14 Aug. 1875, pp. 197-200.]

G. C. B.