Notes from Obstetrical Lectures of Thatcher, Wood, and Hamilton

Scope and Content

The bookplate of Charles Clay M.R.C.S, Church Gates, Church Street can be found in the front of the volume as well as the bookplate of the Manchester Medical Society which indicates that the volume was donated to them by Clay in 1861 and that it was subsequently allocated the reference D 414 viz. their 1890 library catalogue. The title page reads 'Obstetrical notes and observations taken from the lectures of John Thatcher M.D. Edinburgh, Dr Wood, Manchester, and Professor Hamilton, Edinburgh by Charles Clay, Member of Surgeon's College Edinburgh'. There is no clear demarcation between the start and end of notes relating to information taken from lectures given by Thatcher, Wood or Hamilton although Clay does refer to them by name on occasion throughout the notes, for example 'Hamilton recommends ...', which may give some indication as to the source of certain sections.

An alphabetical index in the rear indicates the contents of the notes are as follows: abortion (causes of, character of, and premature labour), bladder of females larger than males, blood vessels and lympha of uterus etc., conception, puerperal convulsion and cure, plurality of children, measurement of child's head, suspicious or positive deformity, dolens phlegmatic, method of extraction, situation of fallopian tubes, hydates, haemorrhage (causes of, character of, prognosis in, symptoms of milder species, symptoms of severe species, cause of during first stage of labour, duty of practitioner in first stage of labour, treatment of in first stage of labour when placenta is up high in uterus, radical, suppress, radical treatment, radical treatment when placenta is attached over os uteri, in the third stage of labour, external and internal treatment of), accidents after labour, practitioners duty during labour, mollities ossium [osteomalacia], menstruation, rupture membranes, monsters [abnormalities, severe teratoid], general observations of the soft parts, ovaria when conception has taken place, measurement of pubis, use of pelvimeter, preternaturally large pelvis, polypi [polyps], retention of placenta, treatment of pregnancy, of the rectum, anatomy of the soft parts, syncope, uterus (anatomy and philosophy of, physiology of gravid uterus, lymphatia, nerves, retroversion, irregular construction, adhesion, dilate, rub, how flood forms in cavity of, treatment, rupture of, dissection, protrusion, inversion), presentation of umbilical cord, entrance of vagina, vagina, virginity (including discussion on the propriety and efficacy of virginity testing).

Following the notes from the lectures there are further notes from a different source on unnumbered pages. These are entitled 'Head of the skeleton of a new born of the ordinary size at the full period of utero-gestation' (ff.72-73), 'effects of impregnation continued' (ff.74-75), 'phenomena of parturition' (ff.77-79), and 'effects of impregnation' (f.81) all of which appear to be describing drawings or figures. There is however only one drawing amongst them, a pencil drawing of a cross section of the chest and abdomen accompanying 'effects of impregnation continued' with the liver, thymus gland, and right lobe of the lung marked on and inserted into the binding between folios 73 & 74. Following on from this there is an extract entitled 'Two cases of disease in newborn infants from the Medico-Chirurgical and Philosophical Magazine' (ff.82-84). ff.85-103 are blank.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Thatcher (1785-1853) was an extra-mural lecturer of midwifery and member of Queen's College in Edinburgh during the first half of the 19th century. He practised from 23 Elder Street and was at times listed as both a physician to the Edinburgh Lying-In Institution and physician and founder to the Edinburgh General Dispensary and Lying-In Institution. He began practicing as an accoucheur, or man-midwife, in November 1806 and is known to have seen several hundred patients each year. Thatcher was a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and vied with James Young Simpson (1811-1870) for the Chair of Midwifery at Edinburgh University in 1839.

Kinder Wood was born in Oldham in 1785 where he began his medical education apprenticed to a respected local surgeon, Mr Cox. He later became a pupil of Mr Gibson at the Manchester Royal Infirmary before continuing his education in London. He became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1807. On his return to the north west he established a successful surgical and midwifery practice in Oldham, which he ran until 1818, when health problems saw him move to Manchester where he set up a practice on King Street.

Once in Manchester he was appointed as surgeon in ordinary and man-midwife to the Manchester and Salford Lying-in Hospital, later St Mary's, a position he held until 1829 when ill-health forced him to resign. He also gave lectures from the hospital as well as from his own practice and in 1826 was appointed lecturer of midwifery at the Pine Street Medical School. Wood is believed to have been the first person to provide lectures on midwifery to students in Manchester. He was a member of the Medico-Chirurgical Society of London and the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society and published widely on obstetrical matters during his career. Wood died on 16 December 1830 at the age of just 45 from cardiac failure as a result of chronic bronchitis.

See entry MMM/14/2/5 for biographical information about Hamilton.

Bibliography

J.L. Bardsley, 'Biographical Sketch of Kinder Wood Esq.' London Medical Gazette or Journal of Practical Medicine Volume 7 1831 pp.623-5.