Croft, Richard (DNB00)

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CROFT, Sir RICHARD, bart. (1762–1818), accoucheur, was born on 9 Jan. 1762, being a son of Herbert Croft, a chancery clerk, and receiver of the Charterhouse. After a medical pupilage with Mr. Chawner, brother of his stepmother, Croft studied at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, and afterwards became partner with Chawner at Tutbury in Staffordshire. He next practised at Oxford for some years, and finally removed to London, where he married the elder twin daughter of Dr. Denman, the leading accoucheur. Having attended the Duchess of Devonshire and other ladies of rank, Croft succeeded to Denman's practice on his retirement. In 1816, on the death of his elder brother, Sir Herbert Croft (1751-1816) [q. v.], the family baronetcy devolved upon him. In 1817 he was selected to attend the Princess Charlotte in her confinement. The fatal result (5-6 Nov. 1817) led to an angry outburst of public feeling against Croft, who appears to have had the entire actual conduct of the labour, although Dr. Baillie as physician, and Dr. Sims as consulting accoucheur, were at hand. The princess, it seems, was bled frequently during her pregnancy, no lady or nurse about her had been a mother, she was allowed to become exhausted without being duly aided, and all the physicians had retired to rest very soon after the birth was complete.

That Croft was not too skilful and rather self-confident appears evident. Overcome with depression and despair at the blame cast upon him, although the royal family were most considerate and sympathetic towards him, he shot himself on 13 Feb. 1818.

[Gent. Mag. lxxxvii. (1817), pt. ii. 449, lxxxviii. (1818), pt. i. 188, 277; Cooke's Address to British Females … with a Vindication of … Sir R. Croft, &c., 1817; Rees Price's Critical Inquiry into the Nature and Treatment of the Case of the Princess Charlotte, &c., 1817; Huish's Memoirs of the Princess Charlotto, 1818; London Medical Repository, 1 Dec. 1817; the same account, altered, was separately published as 'Authentic Medical Statement,' &c., with additional observations by A. T. Thomson; Foot's Letter on the necessity of a public inquiry into the cause of the death of the Princess Charlotte, &c., 1817.]

G. T. B.