Jacob, Arthur (DNB00)

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JACOB, ARTHUR (1790–1874), oculist, second son of John Jacob, M.D. (1754–1827), surgeon to the Queen's County infirmary, Maryborough, Ireland, by his wife Grace (1765–1835), only child of Jerome Alley of Donoughmore, was born at Knockfin, Maryborough, on 13 or 30 June 1790. He studied medicine with his father, and at Steevens's Hospital, Dublin, under Abraham Colles [q. v.] Having graduated M.D. at the university of Edinburgh in 1814, he set out on a walking tour through the United Kingdom, crossing the Channel at Dover, and continuing his walk from Calais to Paris. He studied at Paris until Napoleon's return from Elba. He subsequently pursued his studies in London under Sir B. Brodie, Sir A. Cooper, and Sir W. Lawrence. In 1819 he returned to Dublin, and became demonstrator of anatomy under Dr. James Macartney at Trinity College. Here his anatomical researches gained for him a high reputation, and he collected a valuable museum, which Macartney afterwards sold to the university of Cambridge. In 1819 he announced the discovery, which he had made in 1816, of a previously unknown membrane of the eye, in a paper in the ‘Philosophical Transactions’ (pt. i. pp. 300–7). The membrane has been known since as ‘membrana Jacobi.’ On leaving Macartney, Jacob joined with Graves and others in founding the Park Street School of Medicine. In 1826 he was elected professor of anatomy in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and held the chair until 1869. He was three times chosen president of the college. In 1832, in conjunction with Charles Benson and others, he established the City of Dublin Hospital. With Dr. Henry Maunsell in 1839 he started the ‘Dublin Medical Press,’ a weekly journal of medical science, and edited forty-two volumes (1839 to 1859). He also took an active part in founding the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund Society of Ireland and the Irish Medical Association. At the age of seventy-five he retired from the active pursuit of his profession. His fame rests upon his anatomical and ophthalmological discoveries. Apart from his discovery of the ‘membrana Jacobi,’ he described ‘Jacob's ulcer,’ and revived the operation for cataract through the cornea with the curved needle. To the ‘Cyclopædia of Anatomy’ he contributed an article on the eye, and to the ‘Cyclopædia of Practical Medicine’ treatises on ‘Ophthalmia’ and ‘Amaurosis.’ In December 1860 a medal bearing his likeness was struck and presented to him, and his portrait, bust, and library were afterwards placed in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. He died at Newbarnes, Barrow-in-Furness, on 21 Sept. 1874. In 1824 he married Sarah, daughter of Coote Carroll, esq., of Ballymote, co. Sligo. She died on 6 Jan. 1839. By her he had five sons. His chief publications were: 1. ‘A Treatise on the Inflammation of the Eyeball,’ 1849. 2. ‘On Cataract and the Operation for its Removal by Absorption,’ 1851.

[British Medical Journal, 1874, ii. 511; Medical Press and Circular, 1874, lxix. 278, 285; Medical Times and Gazette, 3 Oct. 1874, pp. 405–6; Graphic, 17 Oct. 1874, pp. 367, 372, with portrait; Jacob and Glascott's Hist. and Genealogical Narrative of the Families of Jacob, privately printed, 1875, pp. 63 sq.]

G. C. B.