Holland, George Calvert (DNB00)

HOLLAND, GEORGE CALVERT (1801–1865), physician, was born at Pitsmoor, Sheffield, 28 Feb. 1801. He had practically no early education, and his father, a respectable artisan, apprenticed him to a trade. When about sixteen years old he suddenly discovered that he had a facility for writing verses. He thereupon studied the poets, and learned Latin, French, and Italian. On the completion of his apprenticeship his friends, under the advice of Dr. Philipps of the Upper Chapel, Sheffield, placed him with a unitarian minister with a view to his joining the unitarian ministry.

After a year he determined to enter the medical profession, and went to Edinburgh, where he graduated M.D. in 1827 with high honours, and, joining the Hunterian and Royal Physical Societies, became president of both. He spent a year in Paris, taking the degree of bachelor of letters, and after another year in Edinburgh began practice in Manchester. Here he made for himself a distinguished position, but a fierce controversy, in which his advocacy of the new discoveries of Gall and Spurzheim involved him with his professional brethren, led to his finally removing to Sheffield. His career in his native town was from the first a success. He at once took a prominent and important position in the Literary and Philosophical Society, Mechanics' Library, and Mechanics' Institution, and an active part in promoting the return of liberal members during the first and second elections for Sheffield under the Reform Act of 1832. His works, ‘An Experimental Enquiry into the Laws of Animal Life,’ Edinburgh, 1829, 8vo, and ‘The Physiology of the Fœtus, Liver, and Spleen,’ 1831, added much to his professional reputation, and he was appointed one of the honorary physicians to the Sheffield General Infirmary. Holland was an enthusiastic student of the new science of mesmerism. In the struggle for the repeal of the corn laws he turned his back on his old principles and actively defended protection. Although his new friends rewarded his efforts with a purse containing five hundred guineas, his action cost him in practice and position more than ten times the amount. Practically giving up his profession, Holland became provisional director of many of the railway projects at the time of the railway mania, and was also a director of the Leeds and West Riding Bank and of the Sheffield and Retford Bank. Disaster overtook these latter companies, and involved him in utter ruin. He retired to Worksop, where he wrote ‘Philosophy of Animated Nature,’ 1848, which he regarded as his best work. After an unsuccessful attempt to establish himself in London, he returned again to Sheffield in 1851, and having changed his views on medical science began practice as a homœopathist. He was elected a member of the town council, but lost his seat in 1858, owing to his advocacy of a Local Improvement Act. In 1862, however, he was made an alderman of the borough, and that position he held until his death at Sheffield on 7 March 1865. Holland's principal works are, besides those mentioned above: 1. ‘Essay on Education,’ 1828, 8vo. 2. ‘Inquiry into the Principles and Practice of Medicine,’ 2 vols. 1833 and 1835. 3. ‘Corn Law Repealing Fallacies,’ &c., 1840, 8vo. 4. ‘Millocrat,’ 1841, 8vo. 5. ‘The Abuses and Evils of Charity, especially of Medical Charitable Institutions.’ 6. ‘The Vital Statistics of Sheffield,’ 1843. 7. ‘The Philosophy of the Moving Powers of the Blood.’ 8. ‘Diseases of the Lungs from Mechanical Causes,’ 1844. 9. ‘The Nature and Cure of Consumption, Indigestion, Scrofula, and Nervous Affections,’ 1850. 10. ‘Practical Suggestions for the Prevention of Consumption,’ 1850. 11. ‘Practical Views on Nervous Diseases,’ 1850. 12. ‘The Constitution of the Animal Creation as expressed in Structural Appendages,’ 1857. 13. ‘The Domestic Practice of Homœopathy,’ London, 12mo, 1859. He also edited a new edition of the poetical works of Richard Furness of Dore, with a sketch of his life, 1858.

[Annals of Yorkshire, p. 453; medical directories, 1864; Cat. of the Manchester Free Ref. Library.]

A. N.