Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pearson, John (1758-1826)

PEARSON, JOHN (1758–1826), surgeon, son of John Pearson of Coney Street, York, was born there on 3 Jan. 1758. He was apprenticed, at the age of sixteen, to a surgeon in Morpeth, whence he removed, in June 1777, to Leeds. There he lived for three years, under the roof of William Hey (1736–1819) [q. v.], the great surgeon to the Leeds General Infirmary, whose biography he afterwards wrote. He came to London in 1780, and entered as a student at St. George's Hospital, to work under John Hunter (1728–1793) [q. v.] He appears to have been granted the diploma of the Surgeons' Company on 4 Oct. 1781, when he was found qualified to act as surgeon to a regiment. In the same year he became house surgeon to the Lock Hospital at so critical a period of its fortunes that in 1782 he was appointed surgeon there, a post he held until 1818. He was also made surgeon, about this time, to the public dispensary, then newly founded, in Carey Street, an office which he resigned in 1809. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society on 24 March 1803, and he afterwards became a fellow of the Linnean Society. In 1820 he was made an honorary member of the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland, and he also became a member of the Royal Medical Society of Edinburgh. In 1785 he was living in Air Street, but he afterwards moved into Golden Square. He died on 12 May 1826. He married Sarah, daughter and heiress of Robert Norman of Lewisham. His son John Norman [q. v.] is separately noticed.

Pearson appears to have been a careful surgeon, with a strong scientific bias. His writings, however, are neither numerous nor important. His chief works are: 1. ‘Principles of Surgery,’ pt. i. 1788, 8vo (the second part was never published); a new edition, 1808. The principles are drawn up in a concise and aphoristical form for the use of students attending Pearson's lectures on surgery. 2. ‘A plain and rational Account of the Nature … of Animal Magnetism,’ 1790, 8vo. 3. ‘Practical Observations on Cancerous Complaints,’ London, 1793, 8vo. 4. ‘Observations on the Effects of Various Articles of the Materia Medica in the Cure of Lues Venerea,’ London, 1800, 8vo; 2nd edit. 1807, 8vo. 5. ‘Some Account of the Two Mummies of the Egyptian Ibis,’ ‘Philosophical Transactions,’ 1805, pt. i. p. 264, and plates. 6. ‘Life of William Hey,’ London, 1822, 2 vols. 8vo; 2nd edit. 1823.

[Lond. Med. and Phys. Journ. 1826, lvi. 51.]

D’A. P.