Papers relating to Thomas Denman

Scope and Content

Papers relating to arrangements for the commemoration ceremony for the bicentenary of the birth of Thomas Denman in July 1933, attended by Professor Phillips, including related correspondence with Dr Henry Spencer and Eardley Holland, and a biographical sketch of Thomas Denman.

Administrative / Biographical History

Dr Thomas Denman, (1733-1815) was born and educated at Bakewell, in Derbyshire. The second son of Mr John Denman, an apothecary, he assisted his elder brother when he succeeded to the business following the death of their father. At the age of 21, he travelled to London and attended two courses of lectures on anatomy. He then procured the appointment of surgeon's mate in the navy. In 1757 he was made surgeon through the interest of the dowager duchess of Devonshire, and, after a cruise of seventeen months off the coast of Africa, was appointed to the Edgar, a new ship of sixty guns, commanded by Captain (afterwards Admiral) Drake, with whom he continued until the conclusion of peace in 1763, when he left the service. Repairing to London, he renewed his studies, and attended Dr Smellie's lectures on midwifery. He was created doctor of medicine by the University of Aberdeen in 1764, and then endeavoured to establish himself as a physician at Winchester. This attempt proving unsuccessful, he returned to London, and made an attempt to resume his situation as surgeon in the navy. Fortunately for his future career he was unable to procure a warrant. He obtained a position as surgeon to one of the royal yachts, helped by the influence of Lord George Cavendish and his former commander, Captain Drake, and this supplemented the small income from his London practice. At the same time, he commenced lecturing on midwifery, in conjunction with Dr Osborne. These lectures, which were continued for fifteen years, gave him a high reputation; and in 1769, he was appointed physician-accoucheur to the Middlesex hospital. Although his progress as a practitioner was slow at first, by 1783 his private engagements had become so numerous that he was compelled to resign his office at the Middlesex hospital. He was admitted by the College of Physicians a Licentiate in Midwifery in December 1783. In 1791 Dr Denman semi-retired to a house at Feltham, near Hounslow, limiting himself to consultations, and in that capacity was much esteemed and much resorted to. He died at his house in Mount Street, Grosvenor Square, 26th November, 1815, aged eighty-two, and was buried at St James's, Piccadilly.

[Source: The Munks Roll, Royal College of Physicians]


This material was originally received into the Archive in envelopes, as collated by Professor Phillips. The original order within envelopes has been retained and a system of arrangement imposed on the files to facilitate access.

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Copyright is vested in the estate of Professor Miles Phillips.

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Custodial History

This is a composite series, retaining where possible original order and groupings of papers.

Related Material

The following works of Dr Denman are held in the RCOG Library:

Aphorisms on the application and use of the forceps, on preternatural labours, and on labours attended with haemorrhage, Thomas Denman, 1783 [CR Denman]

Introduction to the practice of midwifery. Part the fisrt [sic], Thomas Denman, 1782 [CR Denman]

An essay on the puerperal fever, Thomas Denman , 1785 [CR Denman]

An essay on uterine hemorrhages depending on pregnancy and parturition, Thomas Denman, 1785 [CR Denman]

An essay on natural labours, Thomas Denman, 1786 [CR Denman]

An essay on difficult labours. Part first, Thomas Denman, 1787 [CR Denman]

Aphorisms on the application and use of the forceps and vectis, on preternatural labours, on labours attended with hemorrhage, and with convulsions, Thomas Denman, 1815 [CR Denman]

An introduction to the practice of midwifery, Thomas Denman, 1788 [CR Denman]

A collection of engravings, tending to illustrate the generation and parturition of animals, and of the human species, Thomas Denman, 1787 [CR Denman]