Partridge, Richard (DNB00)

PARTRIDGE, RICHARD (1805–1873), surgeon, tenth child and seventh and youngest son of a family of twelve, was born on 19 Jan. 1805. His father, Samuel Partridge, lived at Ross in Herefordshire. Richard was apprenticed in 1821 to his uncle, W. H. Partridge, who was in practice in Birmingham, and during his apprenticeship he acted as dresser to Mr. Hodgson at the Birmingham General Hospital. In 1827 he entered at St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London, to attend the lectures of John Abernethy (1764–1831) [q. v.] He was admitted a member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England on 20 April 1827, and in the following October he became a licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries. He acted for some time as demonstrator at the Windmill Street School of Anatomy, and in 1831, on the foundation of the medical faculty at King's College, London, he was appointed the first demonstrator of anatomy. This post he resigned in 1836, when he was appointed professor of descriptive and surgical anatomy, in succession to Professor Herbert Mayo [q. v.] Partridge's name was brought into prominent notice while he was acting as demonstrator at King's College in connection with the murders committed by Bishop and Williams, for these men attempted to sell him the body of the Italian boy who was their last victim.

On 23 Dec. 1836 Partridge was appointed visiting or assistant surgeon to the Charing Cross Hospital; he became full surgeon there on 8 Jan. 1838, and resigned the office on 13 April 1840, on his appointment as surgeon to the newly established King's College Hospital. He remained surgeon to King's College Hospital until 1870.

In 1837 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. He held all the chief posts at the Royal College of Surgeons, being elected a fellow when that body was founded in 1843; he became a member of the council in 1852, examiner in 1854, Hunterian orator in 1865, and president in 1866. In 1853 he was appointed professor of anatomy at the Royal Academy, where he succeeded Joseph Henry Green [q. v.] of St. Thomas's Hospital. Partridge had fitted himself for this post many years previously by taking lessons in drawing from his brother John (1790–1872) [q. v.] the portrait-painter.

In the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society of London, the premier medical society of England, Partridge served every grade. Elected a fellow in 1828, he was secretary 1832–6, a member of council 1837–1838, and again in 1861–2; vice-president 1847–8, president 1863–4.

In the autumn of 1862, at the request of Garibaldi's friends in England, he proceeded to Spezzia, to attend the general, who was then suffering from a severe wound in his right ankle, which he had received at Aspromonte. Partridge, who had had no experience of gunshot wounds, overlooked the presence of the bullet, which was afterwards detected by Professor Nélaton, and removed by Professor Zanetti. Partridge died on 25 March 1873.

Partridge was a ready and fluent lecturer, and sketched admirably on the blackboard. As a surgeon he was a nervous operator, but an admirable clinical teacher. He paid unusually close attention to the after treatment of the patients upon whom he had operated. He was fond of a jest, and it is still remembered of him that when a student asked him the name of the half-starved-looking horses that drew his carriage, he replied that the name of the one was longissimus dorsi, but that the other was the os innominatum.

A portrait of Partridge, drawn by George Richmond, was engraved by Francis Holl; and in the collection of medical portraits at the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society there is a lithograph by P. H. Maguire, dated 1845.

Partridge only published an article on ‘The Face’ in Todd and Bowman's ‘Cyclopædia of Anatomy and Physiology,’ vol. ii. 1839, and a few contributions to the ‘Transactions’ of the medical societies. He wrote a copiously illustrated work on descriptive anatomy, but never printed it.

[Obituary notices in Medical Times and Gazette, 1873, i. 347–8; Lancet, 1873, i. 464; Proc. Royal Med. and Chir. Soc. 1873, p. 231; additional facts kindly supplied by Surgeon-general S. B. Partridge, a nephew, and by the late T. Whitaker Hulke, P.R.C.S. Engl., a former pupil of Professor Partridge.]

D’A. P.