Hamilton, James (d.1839) (DNB00)
HAMILTON, JAMES, the younger (d. 1839), professor of midwifery in Edinburgh University, was son of Alexander Hamilton (1739-1802) [q. v.], and trained by him as his successor. From his twenty-first year he assisted his father in his practice, and appears to have shown a similar if not greater pugnacity and obstinacy in standing up for his personal and professional rights. In 1792 a pamphlet was published entitled 'A Guide for Gentlemen studying Medicine at the University of Edinburgh,' by J. Johnstone, esq. (pseud.), in which the Hamiltons were praised and other professors censured. Dr. James Gregory (1753-1821) [q. v.] charged Alexander Hamilton with its authorship; he denied the charge, and was exonerated by the senate. Gregory then charged James Hamilton with writing it. Hamilton's reply provoked Gregory to thrash him, for which he brought an action against Gregory, and recovered 100l. damages. In 1800 he succeeded his father in the chair of midwifery, after having partly fulfilled its duties for two years. In 1815 he made a strong effort to get his subject recognised among those which every medical student was required to attend, but failed, owing to the hostility of Gregory and others. In 1824 he sought to gain his end through the town council, for which the senate strongly censured him. This further embittered the quarrel between the town council and the senate, and finally a royal commission was issued in 1827 to inquire into matters in dispute. The question of the requirement of midwifery as a compulsory subject was settled in Hamilton's favour in 1830, and in 1832 he got the resolutions censuring him annulled. His pugnacity was carried into his lectures, where he was conspicuous for his severe criticisms. Sir R. Christison calls him 'a snarling, unfair, unfeeling critic.' His quarrels with Drs. Andrew Duncan the elder [q. v.] and Thomas Charles Hope [q. v.] came into the law courts. His voice was harsh, and his accent broad Scotch; but he was a powerful and acute lecturer, and his great experience gave him much original information. He attracted large classes, although his subject was so long non-essential for graduation. He supported the Lying-in Hospital largely at his own expense. He died on 21 Nov. 1839. He was short in stature, of frail aspect, although really strong, not at all good-looking, with a quick, short, nervous step, and a slight stoop, and downward look. He had great influence over his patients. Hamilton published:
- 'Reply to Doctor Gregory,' 1793.
- 'Select Cases in Midwifery,' 1795.
- 'Observations on the Seats and Causes of Diseases; illustrated by Morgagni's Dissections,' vol. i. 1795.
- 'A Collection of Engravings designed to facilitate the Study of Midwifery,' 1796.
- 'Hints for the Treatment of the principal Diseases of Infancy and Childhood,' 1809.
- 'Observations on the Use and Abuse of Mercurial Medicines in various Diseases,' 1819.
- 'Outlines of Midwifery,' 1826.
- 'Practical Observations on various Subjects relating to Midwifery,' 1836-7; 2nd edit. 1840; German translation, Berlin, 1838; besides numerous articles in medical journals, and controversial pamphlets.
[Sir K. Christison's Life, i. 86-8, 320, 321, 334-40; Kay's Edinburgh Portraits, i. 340, 341; Grant's Story of Edinburgh University; Surgeon-General's Cat. U.S. vol. v.]