Nicoll, Whitlock (DNB00)

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NICOLL, WHITLOCK (1786–1838), physician, son of the Rev. Iltyd Nicoll, was born at Treddington, Worcestershire, in 1786. His father was rector of the parish, and died before Nicoll was two years old; his mother was Ann, daughter of George Hatch of Windsor. He was educated by the Rev. John Nicoll, his uncle, and placed in 1802 to live with Mr. Bevan, a medical practitioner at Cowbridge, Glamorganshire. In 1806 he became a student at St. George's Hospital, and in 1809 received the diploma of membership of the College of Surgeons of England. He then became partner of his former teacher at Cowbridge, and engaged in general practice. He went to live in Ludlow, Shropshire, took an M.D. degree 17 May 1816 at Marischal College, Aberdeen, and was admitted an extra-licentiate of the College of Physicians of London 8 June 1816. He commenced physician, received in 1817 the degree of M.D. from the Archbishop of Canterbury, and began to write as an authority on medicine in the ‘London Medical Repository’ in 1819. His first separate publication, ‘Tentamen Nosologicum,’ had appeared in vol. vii. No. 39 of the ‘Repository.’ It is a general classification of diseases based upon their symptoms. His three main divisions are febres, of which he describes three orders; neuroses, with seven orders; and cachexiæ, with eleven orders, and the arrangement shows nothing more than the ingenuity of a student. ‘The History of the Human Œconomy’ appeared in 1819, and suggests a general physiological method of inquiry in clinical medicine. ‘Primary Elements of Disordered Circulation of the Blood’ was also published in 1819, and contains one hundred obvious remarks on the circulation. ‘General Elements of Pathology’ appeared in 1820, and in 1821 ‘Practical Remarks on the Disordered States of the Cerebral Structures in Infants.’ This was first read before an association of physicians in Ireland on 6 Dec. 1819, and is the most interesting of his medical writings. He seems to have noticed some of the now well-known phenomena of the reflection of irritation from one part of the nervous system to another; but his argument is confused, and his proposition that erethism of the cranial brain is due to impressions on the anticerebral extremities of nerves is imperfectly supported by his actual observations. At this time he became a member of the Royal Irish Academy. On 17 March 1826 he graduated M.D. at Glasgow, then removed to London, and was admitted a licentiate of the College of Physicians on 26 June 1826. He attained some success in practice, and was elected F.R.S. 18 Feb. 1830. He published two ophthalmic cases of some interest—one of imperfection of vision, the other of colour-blindness—in the ‘Medico-Chirurgical Transactions,’ vols. vii. and ix. In 1835 he gave up practice, and settled at Wimbledon, Surrey, where he died on 3 Dec. 1838. The taste for Hebrew and for theology which he acquired in boyhood from the learned uncle who educated him remained through life. He left several theological works in manuscript, which were published in 1841, with a short prefatory sketch of his life. He published five theological treatises during his lifetime: ‘An Analysis of Christianity,’ 8vo, London, 1823; ‘Nugæ Hebraicæ’ and ‘Nature the Preacher,’ 1837; ‘Remarks on the Breaking and Eating of Bread and Drinking of Wine in Commemoration of the Passion of Christ,’ 8vo, London, 1837; ‘An Inquiry into the Nature and Prospects of the Adamite Race,’ 8vo, London, 1838.

[Munk's Coll. of Phys. iii. 149; Works.]

N. M.