Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Ryan, Michael (1800-1841)

RYAN, MICHAEL (1800–1841), physician and author, was born in 1800. He was a member of both the College of Surgeons and the college of Physicians in London, where he practised, and was physician to the Metropolitan Free Hospital. In 1830 he was a candidate for the professorship of toxicology in the Medico-Botanical Society. On 11 May of the same year he communicated to that society a paper on ‘The Use of the Secale Cornutum or Ergot of Rye in Midwifery.’

Besides editing from 1832 to 1838 the original ‘London Medical and Surgical Journal’ (J. F. Clarke, Autobiographical Recollections, 1874, pp. 279–80), he published in 1831 part of a course of lectures on medical jurisprudence, delivered at the medical theatre, Hatton Garden, under the title ‘Lectures on Population, Marriage, and Divorce as Questions of State Medicine, comprising an Account of the Causes and Treatment of Impotence and Sterility.’

In the same year appeared the completed ‘Manual of Medical Jurisprudence, being an Analysis of a Course of Lectures on Forensic Medicine, &c.’ A second and enlarged edition was issued in 1836, an edition with notes by R. E. Griffith, M.D., having been published in Philadelphia in 1832. In 1831 also appeared the third edition, in 12mo, of Ryan's ‘Manual of Midwifery … comprising a new Nomenclature of Obstetric Medicine, with a concise Account of the Symptoms and Treatment of the most important Diseases of Women and Children. Illustrated by plates.’ An enlarged octavo edition was issued in 1841, rewritten, and containing ‘a complete atlas including 120 figures.’ The ‘Atlas of Obstetricity’ had been issued separately in 1840. An American edition of the ‘Manual’ appeared at Burlington, Vermont, in 1835. Ryan's later publications included ‘The Philosophy of Marriage in its Social, Moral, and Physical Relations; with an Account of the Diseases of the Genito-Urinary Organs and the Physiology of Generation in the Vegetable and Animal Kingdom,’ 1837, 8vo; this formed part of a course of obstetric lectures delivered at the North London School of Medicine. Twelve editions in all, the last in 1867, were issued. It was followed in 1839 by ‘Prostitution in London, with a Comparative View of that of Paris and New York … with an Account of the Nature and Treatment of the various Diseases, &c. Illustrated by plates.’

He died in London on 11 Dec. 1841, leaving a young family unprovided for.

Besides the works mentioned, Ryan published ‘The Medico-Chirurgical Pharmacopœia,’ 1837, 12mo, 2nd ed. 1839; and T. Denman's ‘Obstetrician's Vade-Mecum, edited and augmented,’ 1836, 12mo. He also translated and added to ‘Le Nouveau Formulaire pratique des Hôpitaux’ by Milne-Edwards and Vavasour.

Another Michael Ryan (fl. 1800), medical writer, graduated M.D. at Edinburgh in 1784, his thesis being ‘De Raphania.’ He was a fellow of the Irish College of Surgeons, and practised for some years at Kilkenny. He afterwards gained some reputation at Edinburgh, and is described as a fellow of the Scottish Society of Antiquaries, though his name is not in the lists. In 1787 he published at Dublin ‘An Enquiry into the Nature, Causes, and Cure of Consumption of the Lungs, &c.’ This work was in the nature of a comment upon Cullen's ‘First Lines of the Practice of Physic,’ and had an appendix combating the views contained in Reid's ‘Essay on the Phthisis Pulmonalis.’ In 1793 Ryan published ‘Observations on the History and Cure of the Asthma, in which the propriety of using the cold bath in that disorder is fully considered;’ and in 1794 a treatise ‘On Peruvian Bark.’ He also contributed to the ‘London Medical and Physical Journal’ ‘Observations on the Medical Qualities of Acetate of Lead;’ ‘Remarks on the Cure of Autumnal Fever;’ ‘Observations on the Influenza of 1803;’ ‘An Account of an Epidemic at Kilkenny in 1800,’ and other articles. He appears to have joined the Royal College of Surgeons (London), and afterwards entered the colonial service. His widow died at Ranelagh, Dublin, in 1851. His son, Michael Desmond Ryan, is separately noticed (Gent. Mag. 1851, ii. 555; cf. Lit. Memoirs of Living Authors, 1798; Biogr. Dict. of Living Authors, 1814–16; Cameron, Hist. of the Royal Coll. of Surgeons in Ireland, p. 46; Cat. Roy. Med. and Chirurg. Society; Brit. Mus. Cat.)

[Gent. Mag. 1830 i. 351, 450, 1841 i. 105; List of Royal Coll. of Surg. and Physicians; Cat. Royal Med. and Chirurg. Society; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Ryan's works; Allibone's Dict. of Engl. Lit. ii. 1904, which assigns the works of the two Michael Ryans to one author.]

G. Le G. N.