Seaton, Edward Cator (DNB00)

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SEATON, EDWARD CATOR (1815–1880), author of the ‘Handbook of Vaccination,’ was born at Rochester in 1815, where his father, a retired naval surgeon, was in practice. He was educated at Edinburgh University, where he graduated M.D. in 1837, and, then joining his father at Rochester, was appointed surgeon to the North Aylesford Union. Purchasing a small practice, he settled at 77 Sloane Street, London, in 1841, removing to 33 Sloane Street in 1852, and remaining there until 1862. He took an active part in founding the Western Medical Society, of which he was secretary, librarian, and afterwards president. With the Epidemiological Society he was connected from its foundation in 1850 (serving as president in 1869). A committee of the society conducted inquiries concerning small-pox and vaccination, and reached the conclusion that the disease had much increased in foreign countries. The report, drawn up by Seaton, was presented to parliament (Parliamentary Papers, 1852–3, No. 434, and 1854–5, No. 88). The outcome of the inquiry was the Compulsory Vaccination Act of 1853. Among other papers printed by him were ‘The Protective and Modifying Process of Vaccination’ (Journal of Public Health and Sanitary Review, 1856–7, ii. 101, 343–68) and an ‘Account of an Epidemic of Small Pox in Jamaica,’ 1851–2 (Trans. Epidemiological Soc. 1858, pp. 1–12). In 1858 Seaton was appointed an inspector under the general board of health, and was engaged in reporting on the state of vaccination in England, which he found to be deficient and requiring an amendment in the law. He contributed the article on vaccination to Reynolds's ‘System of Medicine’ (1866, i. 483–519), and published his well-known ‘Handbook of Vaccination’ (1868), a ‘Report on Animal Vaccination,’ and ‘On the recent Small-pox Epidemic with reference to Vaccination,’ in the new local government series in 1874. His efforts led to improved arrangements for public vaccination. In 1872 he became a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, and represented Great Britain in the sanitary conference held at Vienna in 1874. From 1871 he acted as assistant medical officer to the local government board, and in June 1876 succeeded John Simon, C.B., as medical officer. In this capacity his sound clear judgment proved of great value. He died at the residence of his son-in-law, Thomas Spooner Soden, at 48 Ladbroke Grove, Notting Hill, London, on 31 Jan. 1880, and was buried in Kensal Green cemetery.

Besides the works enumerated, he wrote: ‘General Memorandum on the Proceedings which are advisable in Places attacked by Epidemic Diseases,’ 1878; ‘Chelsea Vestry: Annual Reports of the Medical Officer of Health,’ 1885–90.

[Dudgeon's Official Defence of Vaccinations, Leicester, 1876; Medical Times and Gazette, 31 Jan. 1880, pp. 137–8; Proceedings of Medical and Chirurgical Society, 1875, viii. 485; Lancet, 31 Jan. 1880, pp. 188–9; Trans. Epidemiological Soc. 1880, iv. 431–2.]

G. C. B.