Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lyons, Robert Spencer Dyer

LYONS, ROBERT SPENCER DYER (1826–1886), physician, born at Cork in 1826, was son of Sir William Lyons (1794–1858), a merchant there, who was mayor in 1848 and 1849, and was knighted by the queen on her visit to Cork, 3 Aug. 1849. His mother was Harriet, daughter of Robert Spencer Dyer of Kinsale. Robert was educated at Hamlin and Porter's grammar school, Cork, and at Trinity College, Dublin, where he graduated in 1848 as a bachelor in medicine. He became a licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in the following year, and in 1855 was appointed chief pathological commissioner to the army in the Crimea, where he reported on the disease then prevalent in the trenches before Sebastopol. On 8 Sept. 1855 he was awarded the Crimean and Turkish medals and clasps for Sebastopol. In 1857 he undertook a voluntary mission to Lisbon to investigate the pathological anatomy of the yellow fever which was raging there, and for his report on that subject received from Dom Pedro V the cross and insignia of the Ancient Order of Christ. He then joined St. George's Hospital, Dublin, where he took an active share in the education of the army medical staff. He was also professor of medicine in the Roman catholic university medical school, a senator of the Royal University, 1880, crown nominee for Ireland in the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom on 29 Nov. 1881, physician to the House of Industry hospitals, and visiting physician to Maynooth College. In 1870 he was invited by Mr. Gladstone's government to act on a commission of inquiry into the treatment of Irish treason-felony prisoners in English gaols, and in connection with this inquiry he visited many French prisons and reported on the discipline exercised in that country. He enthusiastically recommended the reafforesting of Ireland, and with concurrence of government collected information on forests from foreign countries, which was embodied in an article in the ‘Journal of Forestry and Estate Management,’ February 1883, pp. 656–9. He sat in the House of Commons for the city of Dublin as a liberal from April 1880 till the general election in 1885, and spoke on the Parliamentary Oaths Act 1 May 1883. He died at 89 Merrion Square, Dublin, 19 Dec. 1886. He married in 1856 Marie, daughter of David Richard Pigot, lord chief baron of the exchequer in Ireland.

Lyons was the author of:

  1. ‘An Apology for the Microscope,’ 1851.
  2. ‘A Handbook of Hospital Practice, or an Introduction to the Practical Study of Medicine at the Bedside,’ 1859.
  3. ‘A Treatise on Fever,’ 1861.
  4. ‘Intellectual Resources of Ireland. Supply and Demand for an enlarged System of Irish University Education,’ 1873.
  5. ‘Irish Intermediate Education and the Civil Service of Cyprus,’ 1878.
  6. ‘Forest Areas in Europe and America, and probable future Timber Supplies,’ 1884.

[Midland Medical Miscellany, 1 Feb. 1884, pp. 33–5, with portrait; Times, 21 Dec. 1886, p. 6; Freeman's Journal, 20 Dec. 1886, p. 5.]

G. C. B.