Forster, John Cooper (DNB00)


FORSTER, JOHN COOPER (1823–1886), surgeon, was born on 13 Nov. 1823 in Mount Street, Lambeth, his father and grandfather having been medical practitioners there. After being at King's College School Forster entered at Guy's Hospital in 1841, became M.R.C.S. in 1844, M.B. London in 1847, gaining a gold medal in surgery, and F.R.C.S. in 1849. In 1850 he was appointed demonstrator of anatomy at Guy's, in 1855 assistant surgeon, and in 1870 full surgeon. In 1880, when senior surgeon, he resigned his appointment, at the same time that Dr. Habershon resigned the senior physiciancy, as a mark of disapproval of the conduct of the governors and treasurer of the hospital in disregarding the opinions of the medical staff on questions relating to the nursing staff. After their resignation over four hundred Guy's men subscribed to a testimonial and presentation of silver plate to both. After being long a member of the council of the College of Surgeons and examiner in surgery he was in 1884–5 president of the college, and did much to facilitate the starting of the combined examination scheme of the colleges of physicians and surgeons. On the termination of his year of office he retired from practice, having long ceased to extend it owing to his large private means. After a stay at Cannes and Nice in January and February following he returned home prostrated by the cold of travelling, and died of an obscure disease on 2 March 1886 (see Mr. Jonathan Hutchinson's remarks on the case, British Medical Journal, 13 March 1886).

Forster was a good practical surgeon, prompt and decisive in the wards, and by no means lacking in boldness as an operator. He was the first to perform gastrostomy in England in 1858, and went to Aberdeen to study Pirrie's procedure of acupressure in 1867, and in various papers in the Pathological and Clinical Society's ‘Transactions,’ and by his reports of surgical cases in ‘Guy's Hospital Reports,’ showed enlarged views and keen observation. His clinical lectures were terse, emphatic, and full of common sense. His only published volume was on ‘The Surgical Diseases of Children,’ 1860. There is no doubt that Forster would have done more as a surgeon but for his easy circumstances. He was a good practical horticulturist, a very skilful oarsman, having a very wide and complete knowledge of English waterways, and a devoted fly-fisher; he was also noted for his cheery and well-planned hospitality.

[Guy's Hospital Reports, vol. xliv. 1887, Memorial Notice by W. H. A. Jacobson.]

G. T. B.