Wood, John (1825-1891) (DNB00)


WOOD, JOHN (1825–1891), surgeon, son of John and Sarah Wood, appears to have been born on 12 Oct. 1825. He was the youngest child of a large family, and his father, a wool-stapler at Bradford in Yorkshire, could afford to give him only a very simple education at the school of E. Capon. He was then articled to a solicitor, but disliking the law, and finding that his studies were interrupted by a severe injury to his hip, which resulted in permanent shortening and deformity, he went as a dispenser to Edwin Casson, then senior surgeon to the Bradford Infirmary. Here he learnt minor surgery, and was taught so much Latin as enabled him to pass the preliminary examination at the Royal College of Surgeons of England. In October 1846 he entered the medical department of King's College, London, where his student career was marked by extraordinary and rapid success; for he gained four college scholarships and two gold medals. In 1848 he passed the first M.B. examination at the London University, obtaining the second place in honours and the gold medal in anatomy and physiology, but he did not further pursue a university career.

Wood was admitted a member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England on 30 July 1849, and in the same year he became a licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries. He was appointed house surgeon at King's College Hospital for 1850, and in the following year he became one of the demonstrators of anatomy, while Richard Partridge [q. v.] was the lecturer. From 1850 to 1870 Wood almost lived in the dissecting-rooms at King's College, though he was appointed assistant surgeon to King's College Hospital in 1856. When he succeeded to the office of full surgeon he resigned his demonstratorship of anatomy, and in 1871 he was offered the chair of professor of surgery at King's College. In 1877 he became a lecturer on clinical surgery jointly with (Lord) Lister, and in 1889 he was appointed emeritus professor of clinical surgery.

Wood held many important positions at the Royal College of Surgeons of England. Elected a fellow after examination on 11 May 1854, he was Jacksonian prizeman in 1861; examiner in anatomy and physiology 1875–1880; examiner in surgery 1879–89, and in dental surgery 1883–88; a member of the council 1879–87, and vice-president 1885; Hunterian professor 1884–5, and Bradshaw lecturer in 1885. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in June 1871, and in the same year he became an honorary fellow of King's College, London. At various times he acted as an examiner in the universities of London and of Cambridge. He was president of the Metropolitan Counties' branch of the British Medical Association, and he was an honorary fellow of the Swedish Medical Society. He died on 29 Dec. 1891, and is buried in Kensal Green cemetery.

He was twice married: first, on 19 Aug. 1858, to Mary Anne Ward, who died in childbed the following year; secondly, on 5 April 1862, to Emma, widow of the Rev. J. H. Knox and daughter of Thomas Ware. Issue by both marriages survived him.

Wood ranks as one of the last English surgeons who owed their position to a most thorough knowledge of anatomy; yet his mind was sufficiently open to the advantages of pathology to enable him to accept the teaching of his colleague, Lord Lister. Wood's knowledge of anatomy enabled him to invent a somewhat complex method of operation for the cure of rupture, a method which the advance of aseptic surgery has rendered obsolete. In plastic surgery he was an acknowledged master.

Wood published: 1. ‘On Rupture—Inguinal, Crural, and Umbilical,’ London, 1863, 8vo. 2. ‘Lectures on Hernia and its Radical Cure,’ London, 1886, 8vo. 3. ‘The Teeth and Associate Parts,’ Edinburgh, 1886, 12mo.

There is a portrait of Wood in the group of the council of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1884. The picture hangs in the inner hall of the college in Lincoln's Inn Fields.

[Personal knowledge; Brit. Med. Journal, 1892, i. 96; additional information kindly given by Miss Wood and by Dr. Myrtle of Harrogate.]

D’A. P.