1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Clay, Charles
CLAY, CHARLES (1801–1893), English surgeon, was born at Bredbury, near Stockport, on the 27th of December 1801. He began his medical education as a pupil of Kinder Wood in Manchester (where he used to attend John Dalton’s lectures on chemistry), and in 1821 went to Edinburgh to continue his studies there. Qualifying in 1823, he began a general practice in Ashton-under-Lyne, but in 1839 removed to Manchester to practise as an operative and consulting surgeon. It was there that, in 1842, he first performed the operation of ovariotomy with which his name is associated. On this occasion it was perfectly successful, and when in 1865 he published an analysis of 111 cases he was able to show a mortality only slightly above 30%. Although his merits in this matter have sometimes been denied, his claim to the title “Father of Ovariotomy” is now generally conceded, and it is admittted that he deserves the credit not only of having shown how that operation could be made a success, but also of having played an important part in the advance of abdominal surgery for which the 19th century was conspicuous. In spite of the claims of a heavy practice, Clay found time for the pursuit of geology and archaeology. Among the books of which he was the author were a volume of Geological Sketches of Manchester (1839) and a History of the Currency of the Isle of Man (1849), and his collections included over a thousand editions of the Old and New Testaments and a remarkably complete series of the silver and copper coins of the United States. He died at Poulton-le-Fylde, near Preston, on the 19th of September 1893.