Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Earle, James

EARLE, Sir JAMES (1755–1817), surgeon, was born in London in 1755, and received his professional education at St. Bartholomew's Hospital. He was elected assistant-surgeon to the hospital in 1770. From 1776 to 1784, as Mr. Crane, one of the surgeons, was unable to operate, Earle performed one-third of the operations at the hospital. He was elected surgeon 22 May 1784, and held that office for thirty-one years, resigning two years before his death in 1817. He lived in Hanover Square, London, was surgeon extraordinary to George III, and was celebrated as an operator. In 1802, when president of the College of Surgeons, he was knighted by the king. He married the daughter of Percival Pott, then surgeon to St. Bartholomew's Hospital, and his third son, Henry [q. v.], became surgeon to the same foundation. Earle wrote the memoir of Percival Pott prefixed to the three-volume octavo edition of Pott's works, published in 1790, and a life of another colleague, Dr. William Austin [q. v.], prefixed to an essay on lithotomy. Both are written in a simple, lucid style, which is also found in his surgical writings, and which was probably acquired from his study of the methods of thought and the writings of Pott. He was famous for his skill in lithotomy, and introduced an improvement in the treatment of hydrocele. His surgical works are: 1. ‘A Treatise on the Hydrocele,’ 1791 (with additions in 1793, 1796, and 1805). 2. ‘Practical Observations on the Operation for Stone,’ 1793 (2nd edition 1796). 3. ‘Observations on the Cure of Curved Spine,’ 1799. 4. ‘On Burns,’ 1799. 5. ‘A New Method of Operation for Cataract,’ 1801. 6. ‘Letter on Fractures of the Lower Limbs,’ 1807. 7. ‘On Hæmorrhoidal Excrescences,’ 1807. In the ‘Philosophical Transactions’ for 1803 he described a very large vesical calculus. His writings show that besides being a skilful operator he was a careful observer at the bedside, and in every way a worthy disciple of the illustrious Percival Pott.

[MS. Journal of St. Bartholomew's Hospital; Works.]

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