I’ve been developing an interest in medical history. A recent visit to Bath Old Books revealed a copy of Selected Lectures and Essays including Ligaments their Nature & Morphology written by long-deceased medical lecturer Sir John Bland-Sutton in 1920. It’s an odd book, being part textbook, part collection of lecture notes, and part memoir. I won’t lie, it is a little dry in places. However, it held a degree of special importance to me as Sir John Bland-Sutton was a lecturer at Middlesex Hospital Medical School, which would join to become UCL Medical School, which I would then attend about 100 years after the days of Sir John Bland-Sutton.

Tucked between the pages of a chapter on ‘Wounds of the Heart’ I found the following note:

J. G. Harbottle appears to have been a stockbroker and previous Mayor of Darlington, but it is to Dr Hern that we turn our attention. It turns out that doctors tend to be visible people, even before the days of public GMC registers. Deep in the annals of the Opthalmological Society of the United Kingdom we find a Dr John Hern, who lived at Semmercote Darlington, and was elected a member in 1887. Not too wildly far off from 1920 when my bookmark was addressed.

He even had the birth of his son published in a 1892 copy of the Lancet.

And probably unsurprisingly we can find evidence of various publications.

Finally, his obituary was published in the BMJ in 1936, and we can track some of his family tree who set down roots in Ashburton.

The British Medical Journal, Vol. 2, No. 3957 (Nov. 7, 1936), p. 952
The British Medical Journal, Vol. 2, No. 3957 (Nov. 7, 1936), p. 952

It does leave the question of why a distinguished surgeon in his mid 60s was reading a book of medical school lectures, but I suppose some questions can’t be answered.