Burrows, George (DNB01)

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BURROWS, Sir GEORGE, first baronet (1801–1887), physician, was a scion of an old Kentish family of yeomen, and the eldest son of George Man Burrows, M.D., F.R.C.P., of Bloomsbury Square, London, by his wife Sophia, second daughter of Thomas Druce of Chancery Lane. Born in Bloomsbury Square on 28 Nov. 1801, he was educated for six years at Ealing, under Dr. Nicholas, where he had Cardinal Newman for a schoolfellow. After leaving school, in 1819 he attended the lectures of John Abernethy [q. v.], his future father-in-law, at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, and other courses delivered by Professors Brande and Faraday at the Royal Institution. He was admitted scholar of Caius College, Cambridge, on 7 Oct. 1820, graduating B.A. in 1825 (tenth wrangler), M.B. in 1826, and M.D. in 1831. He also carried off the Tancred medical studentship. While at Cambridge he was well known as a cricketer, and distinguished himself as an oarsman; he organised and pulled stroke in the first six-oar racing boat that floated on the Cam. He was junior fellow and mathematical lecturer of Caius College from 1825 to 1835.

Returning to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital from Cambridge, Burrows studied as a dresser under Sir William Lawrence [q. v.], and as clinical clerk under Dr. Peter Mere Latham [q. v.] Soon afterwards he travelled with a patient on the continent, and studied at Pavia and in France and Germany. He passed six months in Paris in the anatomical schools under Breschet, and while in Italy studied under Scarpa and Panezza.

In 1829 Cambridge University granted him a license to practise, and he was admitted in the same year an inceptor candidate at the College of Physicians. He had seen and studied cholera in Italy, and in 1832, during the great cholera epidemic in London, he was placed by the governors of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in charge of an auxiliary establishment. At the end of 1832 he was appointed joint lecturer on medical jurisprudence at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital with Dr. Roupell, and in 1834 sole lecturer on this subject. His first lecture on forensic medicine, which was separately printed, was published in the ‘London Medical and Surgical Journal’ for 4 Feb. 1832. In 1836 he was made joint lecturer on medicine with Dr. Latham, and in 1841 succeeded as sole lecturer. His lectures were plain, judicious, and complete. In 1834 he was appointed the first assistant physician to the hospital, with the charge of medical out-patients, and was promoted full physician in 1841; he held this post until 1863, when he was placed on the consulting staff. On this occasion he was presented with a testimonial by his colleagues. He was for many years physician to Christ’s Hospital. He joined the Royal College of Physicians as a member in 1829, and was elected a fellow in 1832. In that institution he subsequently delivered the Gulstonian (1834), Croonian (1835–6), and Lumleian lectures (1843–4). He held the office of censor in 1839, 1840, 1843, and 1846, of councillor for five periods of three years between 1838 and 1870, and from 1860 to 1869 was the representative of the college in the General Medical Council; he was one of the treasurers from 1860 to 1863, and was president from 1871 to 1875. In 1846 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society, and in 1872 received the degree of D.C.L. from Oxford, and in 1881 that of LL.D. from Cambridge. In 1862 he was president of the British Medical Association, and in 1869 he became president of the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society. In 1870 he was made physician extraordinary to the queen, and in 1873, on the death of Sir Henry Holland [q. v.], he became physician in ordinary. In 1874 he was created a baronet. He was also a member of the senate of the London University. On 11 Dec. 1880 he was elected honorary fellow of Caius College.

Burrows continued to see patients at his residence, 18 Cavendish Square, until shortly before his death, when he became incapacitated by bronchitis and emphysema, to which he ultimately succumbed. He died in Cavendish Square on 12 Dec. 1887, in his eighty-seventh year, and was buried at Highgate cemetery on Saturday, 17 Dec. 1887. On 18 Sept. 1834 he married Elinor, youngest daughter of John Abernethy, by whom he had eight children; two children died in early life, and three sons, who attained to manhood, predeceased him. Lady Burrows died in 18B2.

In person Burrows was tall, well formed, with handsome and expressive features; his voice was clear, he always spoke briefly and to the point. There is a portrait of him by Knight in the great hall of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital; it was painted by subscription from his friends and pupils in 1866. A second portrait in his robes as president of the Royal College of Physicians, by W. Richmond, R.A., painted about 1874, is now in the possession of his son, Sir F. A. Burrows, bart., at 33 Ennismore Gardens, London. There is also a bust, executed about 1875, by Wugmuller, at the Royal College of Physicians, and a replica, executed in 1898, by Danta Sodini of Florence, in the hall of the General Medical Council, Oxford Street, London, W.

Burrows’s Lumleian lectures ‘On Disorders of the Cerebral Circulation and the Connection between Affections of the Brain and Diseases of the Heart’ were published in book form in 1846. In them he explained and illustrated experimentally the condition of the circulation in the brain under varying conditions of pressure. In 1840 and 1841 he wrote the articles on ‘Rubeola and Scarlet Fever’ and on ‘Hæmorrhages’ in Tweedie’s ‘Library of Medicine.’ He also published ‘Clinical Lectures on Medicine’ in the ‘Medical Times and Gazette,’ and papers in the ‘Medico-Chirurgical Transactions,’ vols, xxvii. and xxx.

[British Medical Journal, 1887; The Lancet, 1887; Churchill’s Medical Direct.; Lodge’s Baronetage; information supplied by his son-in-law, Alfred Willett, esq., F.R.C.S., of 36 Wimpole Street; Memoir by Sir James Paget in the St. Bartholomew’s Hospital Reports, 1887; Venn’s Biogr. Hist, of Gonville and Caius Coll. 1898, ii. 179.]

W. W. W.