Winterbottom, Thomas Masterman (DNB00)

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WINTERBOTTOM, THOMAS MASTERMAN (1765?–1859), physician, born in 1764 or 1765, was the son of a physician at South Shields in the county of Durham. He graduated M.D. at Glasgow in 1792, succeeded his father in his practice at South Shields, and while still a young man was sent on a medical mission to Sierra Leone, where he spent seven years. He embodied his experiences in two very readable works. One, entitled ‘Medical Directions for the Use of Navigators and Settlers in Hot Climates’ (2nd edit. London, 1803, 12mo), had for its subject those sanitary observations which were the immediate object of the mission, and was translated into Dutch with the approval of the director-general of trade in the Dutch colonies; while the other, entitled ‘An Account of the Native Africans in the Neighbourhood of Sierra Leone, to which is added an Account of the Present State of Medicine among them’ (London, 1803, 2 vols. 8vo), contained his unofficial observations. The former work was commended by Southey in his ‘History of Brazil,’ and the latter was praised by Sydney Smith in the ‘Edinburgh Review’ (iii. 355). In preparing his book on Sierra Leone he was assisted by his friend Zachary Macaulay [q. v.], formerly governor of the colony. Winterbottom returned to South Shields before 1803, and passed the rest of his life in practice there. On the publication of the ‘Medical Register’ in 1859 in pursuance of an enactment of parliament, he was found to be the oldest physician included in its pages. He was well known in the north of England for his many acts of philanthropy. In his youth he was in hearty support of the abolition of the slave trade, and afterwards he advocated emancipation. He founded and endowed several local charities, including the Marine School of South Shields in 1837, the Master Mariners' Asylum and Annuity Society in 1839, the Winterbottom South Shields fund for the relief of deserving widows of seamen, and in 1849 the unmarried female servants' reward fund. He died at Westoe, near South Shields, on 8 July 1859. He was married, but left no issue. Besides the works mentioned, he was the author of several papers published in ‘Medical Facts and Observations’ between 1793 and 1800.

[Gent. Mag. 1859, ii. 200; Allibone's Dict. of Engl. Lit.; Medical Directory and General Medical Register, 1859.]

E. I. C.