Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Churchill, Fleetwood

CHURCHILL, FLEETWOOD, M.D. (1808–1878), obstetrician and medical writer, was born at Nottingham in 1808. His father, a business man, died when he was three years old, and he was educated by his mother. He early showed a special interest in medical science; was apprenticed to a general practitioner at Nottingham in 1822, and afterwards studied in London, Dublin, Paris, and Edinburgh, where he graduated M.D. in 1831. In the following year, in order to perfect himself in midwifery, he again went to Dublin, where he finally settled in practice. Having become a licentiate of the King and Queen's College of Physicians, he aided in establishing a small lying-in hospital (the Western), and in there instructing a class of students in midwifery. He was now happily married, and entered upon a very successful career as a teacher, a writer, and a practitioner. His income reached 3,000l. a year. Various professional honours and appointments were bestowed upon him. In 1851 the honorary degree of M.D. was conferred upon him by the university of Dublin; he was king's professor of midwifery in the School of Physic from 1856 to 1864; he was twice president of the Obstetrical Society of Dublin, in 1856 and 1864; and he was president of the King and Queen's College of Physicians in 1867–8. He was a most diligent student, and utilised as much as possible the many hours that the exercise of his profession obliged him to spend in the houses of his patients. He was also a deeply religious man, continuing all his life an attached member of the church of Ireland, and, when the act of disestablishment came into force in 1870, taking an active part in the arduous work of reorganisation. For this he was especially fitted, on account of the deep interest which he had for many years taken in the working and progress of the American episcopal church, on which he had read an elaborate paper at the Dublin Church Congress, 1869, afterwards published in a separate form. He was an ardent supporter of foreign missions, and intimately acquainted with the church abroad. He was also one of the earliest pioneers of sanitary reform in Dublin, and assisted in founding the old Sanitary Association in 1850. When, about two years and a half before his death, his health began to fail rapidly, he determined to give up the practice of his profession. Accordingly, after presenting his valuable obstetrical library to the College of Physicians, he left Dublin, and retired to the house of his daughter and son-in-law at Ardtrea rectory, near Stewartstown. Here, after a short illness, and within a month of completing his seventieth year, he died, 31 Jan. 1878. His principal works (which deservedly obtained a very wide circulation both at home and abroad) were the following:

  1. ‘Diseases of Females,’ 1838.
  2. ‘Diseases incident to Pregnancy and Childbed,’ 1840.
  3. ‘Operative Midwifery,’ 1841.
  4. ‘Theory and Practice of Midwifery,’ 1842.
  5. A volume of monographs on ‘Diseases of Women,’ edited for the Sydenham Society, 1849.
  6. ‘Diseases of Children,’ 1850.

[British Medical Journal, 18 Feb. 1878; Grimshaw in Dublin Journal of Medical Science, March 1878; West's Annual Address to the Obstetrical Society of London, 1879; and private sources.]

W. A. G.