Inman, Thomas (DNB00)

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INMAN, THOMAS, M.D. (1820–1876), mythologist, born on 27 Jan. 1820 in Rutland Street, Leicester, was second son of Charles Inman (a native of Lancaster, descended from a Yorkshire family), who was sometime partner in Pickford's carrying company, and afterwards director of the Bank of Liverpool. William Inman [q. v.] was his younger brother. Thomas went to school at Wakefield, and in 1836 was apprenticed to his uncle, Richard Inman, M.D., at Preston, Lancashire. He entered at King's College, London, where he had a distinguished career, graduating M.B. in 1842 and M.D. in 1844 at the university of London. Declining a commission as an army surgeon, he settled in Liverpool as house-surgeon to the Royal Infirmary. He obtained a good practice as a physician, and was for many years physician to the Royal Infirmary. His publications on personal hygiene are full of shrewd practical counsel.

On 21 Oct. 1844 he became a member of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Liverpool, to whose ‘Proceedings’ he frequently contributed papers, chiefly on archæological subjects. He had little original scholarship, but read widely, and, although the philological basis of his researches is quite unscientific, his writings display great ingenuity. From Godfrey Higgins [q. v.] he derived the suggestion that the key to all mythology is to be sought in phallic worship. On 5 Feb. 1866 he first propounded this theory in a paper on ‘The Antiquity of certain Christian and other Names.’ The subject was pursued in other papers, and in three works on ‘Ancient Faiths,’ which he published between 1868 and 1876.

In 1871 he gave up practice and retired to Clifton, near Bristol, where he died on 3 May 1876. He was a man of handsome presence, and his genial temperament made him generally popular. He married in 1844 Jennet Leighton, daughter of Daniel Newham of Douglas, Isle of Man, and had six sons and two daughters, of whom two sons and two daughters survived him. His most important publications are: 1. ‘Spontaneous Combustion,’ Liverpool, 1855, 8vo. 2. ‘On certain Painful Muscular Affections,’ 1856, 8vo; 2nd edition, with title, ‘The Phenomena of Spinal Irritation,’ &c., 1858, 8vo; 3rd edition, with title, ‘On Myalgia,’ &c., 1860, 8vo. 3. ‘The Foundation for a new Theory and Practice of Medicine,’ 1860, 8vo; 2nd edition, 1861, 8vo. 4. ‘On the Preservation of Health,’ &c., Liverpool, 1868, 8vo; 2nd edition, 1870, 8vo; 3rd edition, 1872, 8vo. 5. ‘Ancient Faiths embodied in Ancient Names; or, an Attempt to trace the Religious Belief … of certain Nations,’ &c., vol. i. 1868, 8vo; vol. ii. 1869, 8vo; 2nd edition, 1872–3, 8vo. 6. ‘Ancient Pagan and Modern Christian Symbolism exposed and explained,’ &c., 1869, 8vo. 7. ‘The Restoration of Health,’ &c., 1870, 8vo; 2nd edition, 1872, 8vo. 8. ‘Ancient Faiths and Modern: a Dissertation upon Worships … before the Christian Era,’ &c., New York (printed at Edinburgh), 1876, 8vo.

[Information kindly furnished by Miss Z. Inman; Proceedings of the Lit. and Philos. Soc. of Liverpool; personal knowledge.]

A. G.