Brinton, William (DNB00)

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BRINTON, WILLIAM, M.D. (1823–1867), physician, was born at Kidderminster, where his father was a carpet manufacturer, 20 Nov. 1823. After education at private schools and as apprentice to a Kidderminster surgeon he matriculated at the London University in 1843, and began medical studies at King's College, London. He won several prizes, and graduated M.B. in the London University in 1847, M.D. in 1848. In 1849 he became a member of the College of Physicians, and in 1854 a fellow. In 1848 he sent to the Royal Society a paper, ‘Contributions to the Physiology of the Alimentary Canal,’ and after holding some minor appointments at his own medical school he was elected lecturer on forensic medicine at St. Thomas's Hospital. He published an able series of ‘clinical remarks’ in the ‘Lancet,’ and the reputation which these brought him led to his early acquisition of a considerable practice. He became physician to St. Thomas's Hospital, and in addition to his other lectureship was made lecturer on physiology there. He married in 1854 and lived in Brook Street, Grosvenor Square, and his practice steadily increased. Intestinal obstruction and diseases of the alimentary canal in general were subjects to which he had paid special attention, and on which he was often consulted. His Croonian lectures at the College of Physicians in 1859 were on intestinal obstruction. In 1857 he published the ‘Pathology, Symptoms, and Treatment of Ulcer of the Stomach,’ the first complete treatise on that subject which had appeared in England, and in 1859 he brought out ‘Lectures on the Diseases of the Stomach,’ of which a second edition was published in 1864. This book contains a clear account of the existing knowledge of the subject, with many well-arranged notes of cases and a few observations new to medicine, for example the description (p. 87, ed. 1864) of the condition of stomach sometimes discovered after death in cases of scarlet fever. In the last chapter Brinton demonstrates the absence of pathological ground for the affection so often named in general literature, as well as in medical books, under the term gout in the stomach. Brinton was a man of untiring industry, and published many papers in the medical periodicals of his time. He translated Valentin's 'Text Book of Physiology' from the German in 1853; wrote a short treatise 'On the Medical Selection of Lives for Assurrance' in 1856, and in 1861 'On Food and its Digestion, being an Introduction to Dietetics,' besides six articles in 'Todd's Cyclopædia of Anatomy and Physiology,' and some papers read before the Royal Society. He was elected F.R.S. in 1864. His vacations were often spent in the Tyrol, where he was an active member of the Alpine Club. Two papers by him appear in 'Peaks, Passes, and Glaciers' (series ii. vol. i.) In 1863 Brinton had symptoms of renal disease, and, after manly struggles to continue his labours in spite of the malady, he died on 17 Jan. 1867. After his death a treatise on 'Intestinal Obstruction,' based on his Croonian lectures, was edited by his friend Dr. Buzzard. Brinton was a physician of high personal character and great powers of work. His book on ulcer of the stomach deserves a place among the best English medical monographs, and in all his books the assertions rest on a solid basis of observation. He left six children, and one of his sons graduated in medicine at Cambridge A memoir of Brinton by Dr. Thomas Buzzard appeared in the 'Lancet' for 26 Jan. 1867, and has been reprinted.

[Buzzard's Memoir (1867); Brinton's works.]

N. M.