Holmes, Timothy (DNB12)

HOLMES, TIMOTHY (1825–1907), surgeon, born on 9 May 1825, was son of John Holmes, warehouseman, living in Colebrooke Row, Islington, by his wife Elizabeth. Ho entered Merchant Taylors' School in November 1836, and gained a Stuart's exhibition to Pembroke College, Cambridge, in 1843. In 1845 he was admitted a scholar of the college, graduating B.A. in 1847 as forty-second wrangler and twelfth classic. He proceeded M. A. in 1853; in 1900 the honorary degree of Master in Surgery was conferred upon him, and in the same year he was made an honorary fellow of Pembroke College.

Holmes returned to London on the completion of his Cambridge course, and became a student at St. George's Hospital; he was admitted F.R.C.S. England on 12 May 1853 without previously taking the usual diploma of membership. He then served as house surgeon and surgical registrar at St. George's Hospital. He acted for a time as curator of the museum and demonstrator of anatomy until in June 1861 he was elected assistant surgeon and lecturer on anatomy. Holmes became full surgeon to the hospital in December 1867 upon the resignation of Thomas Tatum (1802-1879). This post Holmes held until 1887, when he retired on a time limit of service and was appointed consulting surgeon. In 1894 he accepted the onerous position of honorary treasurer, and was appointed a vice-president on his retirement from active work in 1904. Elected assistant surgeon to the Hospital for Sick Children in Great Ormond Street in May 1859, he was full surgeon (Sept. 1861-8). For twenty years he was chief surgeon to the metropolitan police.

In 1873 Holmes was elected Hunterian professor of surgery and pathology at the Royal College of Surgeons of England. A member of the court of examiners (1873-1883), he joined the newly appointed board of examiners in anatomy and physiology, and in 1880 he was a surgical examiner on on the board of examiners in dental surgery. In 1877 Holmes was elected a member of the council of the college, but did not seek re-eleotion at the end of his first term of office in 1885.

Holmes took an active interest in the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society of London (now merged in the Royal Society of Medicine). Ho was chairman of the building committee which arranged the removal of the society from its old quarters in Bemers Street to its house in Hanover Square in 1899, and in 1900 he was elected president of the society, after filling all the subordinate offices. He joined the Pathological Society of London in 1854, and while honorary secretary (1864-7) prepared a general index to the volumes of its transactions. He was an original member of the Clinical Society, and was a vice-president from 1873 to 1875. After a long residence at 18 Great Cumberland Place he removed to 6 Sussex Place, Hyde Park, where he died on 8 Sept. 1907. He was buried at Hendon. He married Sarah Brooksbank, but left no issue. His portrait, painted by Sir W. B. Richmond, R.A., in 1889, is now at St. George's Hospital.

Holmes was a scientific surgeon possessed of an unusually clear and logical mind. Gifted with the power of incisive speech, he was fearless in expressing his conclusions, and exposed the fallacy n an argument mercilessly. The loss of an eye owing to an accident during his hospital work, a harsh and somewhat monotonous voice, and a manner carefully cultivated to hide any interest he might feel in those whom he examined, made him a terror to students, although his lack of sympathy was superficial, and he was the friend and trusted adviser of all who sought his help. He was a surgeon of the older school before the advent of bacteriological methods, and he made anatomy the foundation of his surgery. He was a skilled writer, always lucid, pure in style, and well read in Greek and Latin as well as in the best English literature.

Holmes edited several editions of Henry Gray's 'Anatomy,' which has remained a standard text-book, and he designed and edited 'A System of Surgery, Theoretical and Practical' (4 vols. 1860-4; 2nd edit. 5 vols. 1869-71; 3rd edit. 3 vols. 1883), under the joint editorship of himself and J. W. Hulke [q. v.]. Holmes also published: 1. 'A Treatise on the Principles and Practice of Surgery,' 1875, which long formed a text-book for medical students; 4th edit. 1884; 5th edit. 1888, rewritten by T. Pickering Pick. 2. 'A Treatise on the Surgical Treatment of the Diseases of Infancy and Childhood' (the results of his ten years' experience as surgeon to the Children's Hospital in Great Ormond Street), 1868; 2nd edit. 1869; translated into French and German. 3. A life of Sir Benjamin Collins Brodie [q. v.] for the 'Masters of Medicine' series in 1898.

Holmes translated C. E. A. Wagner's 'On the Process of Repair after Resection and Extirpation of Bones,' with an appendix of cases (Sydenham Society, London, 1859). With Dr. John Syer Bristowe [q. v. Suppl. I] he also prepared a valuable report upon hospitals and their administration, which was published as an appendix to the sixth annual report of the public health department of the Privy Council.

[St. George's Hosp. Gazette, vol. xv. 1907, p. 127; Lancet (with portrait), 1907, ii. 803; Brit. Med. Journal, 1907, ii. 704; personal knowledge.]

D’A. P.