Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gale, Thomas (1507-1587)

GALE, THOMAS (1507–1587), surgeon, was born in London in 1507, and was apprenticed with John Field, also a well-known surgeon, to Richard Ferris, one of the chief barber-surgeons of the time. After practicing for some time in London, he served in the army of Henry VIII at Muttrell in France in 1544 (Treatise of Gunshot, p. 74 b), and there had the good sense to refuse to imperil the lives of eleven soldiers by removing bullets the lodgments of which were uncertain. In 1557 he served under Philip II of Spain at the siege of St. Quentin, and two years later was established in practice in London Institution, p. 8 b). He was master of the Barber-Surgeons' Company in 1561, and published a volume on surgery in 1563, dedicated to Lord Robert Dudley. It contains four separate treatises. 'The Institution of Chirurgerie,' the first, is a sort of catechism of surgery, in which Gale and his friend Field answer the questions of a surgical student named John Yates. The second is 'The Enchiridion of Surgery,' a compilation on general surgery, which contains the prescription for Gale's styptic powder often mentioned in contemporary works. Its chief ingredients were alum, turpentine, arsenic, and quicklime. The third is a treatise on gunshot wounds, in which he shows that gunpowder is not a poison, and the fourth is an antidotary or collection of prescriptions. A second volume appeared in 1566 containing some translations from Latin versions of Galen, 'A brief Declaration of the Worthy Art of Medicine,' and 'The Office of a Chirirgeon.' Gale knew but little Latin, and the translations are the work of his friend Dr. Cuningham. The writings of Gale are mainly compilations and contain few cases from his own practice. They show him to have had less mother wit than his contemporary William Clowes the elder [q. v.], and less reading than John Banister (1540-1610) [q. v.] He died in 1587, and left a son, Thomas, also a surgeon, admitted to the guild 18 Jan. 1597.

[Works; MS. Transcript of Records at Barbers' Hall by Sidney Young.]

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