Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Taylor, Charles Bell

TAYLOR, CHARLES BELL (1829–1909), ophthalmic surgeon, born at Nottingham on 2 Sept. 1829, was son of Charles Taylor by his wife Elizabeth Ann Galloway. His father and brother were veterinary surgeons in the town. After brief employment in the lace warehouse of his uncle, William Galloway, he apprenticed himself to Thomas Godfrey, a surgeon at Mansfield. He was admitted M.R.C.S. England in 1852, and a licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries in 1855. He graduated M.D. at the University of Edinburgh in 1854, and in 1867 he obtained the diploma of F.R.C.S. Edinburgh. In 1854 Taylor was pursuing his medical studies in Paris. He acted for some time as medical superintendent at the Walton Lodge Asylum, Liverpool, but in 1859 he returned to Nottingham, where he lived during the remainder of his life. In that year he joined the staff of the newly established Nottingham and Midland Eye Infirmary, and his attention was thus directed to a branch of the profession in which he gained renown.

A consummate and imperturbable operator, especially in cases of cataract, he soon enjoyed a practice that extended beyond Great Britain. He always operated by artificial light, held chloroform in abhorrence, never employed a qualified assistant, and had no high opinion of trained nurses.

Taylor died, unmarried, at Beechwood Hall, near Nottingham, on 14 April 1909, and was buried at the Nottingham general cemetery. An uncompromising individualist, Taylor took a prominent, and professionally unpopular, part in securing the repeal of the Contagious Diseases Act; he was a determined opponent of vivisection and of compulsory vaccination. He held strong views on diet, was an abstainer not merely from alcohol and tobacco but even from tea and coffee, and took only two meals a day. Most of his estate of 160,000l. was distributed by will among the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection; the London Anti-Vivisection Society; the British committee of the International Federation for the Abolition of the State Regulation of Vice; the National Anti-Vaccination League; and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

[Brit. Med. Journal, 1909, i. 1033; Ophthalmoscope, vol. ix. 1909, p. 376 (with portrait); Ophthalmic Review, xxviii. 133; The Tunes, 1 July 1909 some of his eccentricities are well described by Col. Anstruther Thomas, Master of the Pytchley, in his Eighty Years' Reminiscences; additional information kindly obtained by Mr. Charles Taylor, M.R.C.V.S., of Nottingham, his nephew.]

D’A. P.