Bennett, James Risdon (DNB01)

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BENNETT, Sir JAMES RISDON (1809–1891), physician, eldest son of the Rev. James Bennett, D.D. [q. v.], nonconformist minister, was born at Romsey on 29 Sept. 1809. He received his education at the Rotherham College, Yorkshire, of which his father became principal; and at the age of fifteen was apprenticed to Thomas Waterhouse of Sheffield. In 1830 he went to Paris, and afterwards to Edinburgh, where he graduated M.D. in 1833. In the autumn of the same year he accompanied Lord Beverley to Rome, and spent two or three summers in his company and that of Lord Aberdeen. On his return to England in 1837 he became physician to the Aldersgate Street dispensary, and lectured on medicine at the Charing Cross Hospital medical school, and also at Grainger's private school of medicine. In 1843 he was appointed assistant physician to St. Thomas's Hospital, and in 1849 full physician. On the foundation of the City of London Hospital for Diseases of the Chest in 1848 he was appointed physician to that institution; and from 1843 to its dissolution in 1867 acted as secretary to the Sydenham Society. In 1875 he was elected F.R.S.

Settling in Finsbury Square on his marriage in 1841, he enjoyed for many years a good position as a consultant, especially in connection with chest diseases, having been one of the first to introduce into this country the use of the stethoscope. In 1876 he was elected to the office of president of the Royal College of Physicians, and was knighted. He then removed to Cavendish Square, where he died on 14 Dec. 1891.

He married, in June 1841, Ellen Selfe, daughter of the Rev. Henry Page of Rose Hill, Worcester, by whom he had nine children, of whom six survived.

His published works include a translation of 'Kramer on Diseases of the Ear,' 1837; an essay on 'Acute Hydrocephalus,' which obtained the Fothergillian gold medal of the Medical Society of London in 1842, and was published in the following year; and the 'Lumleian Lectures at the College of Physicians on Intra-thoracic Tumours,' 1872.

[Private information from members of the family; Men and Women of the Time, 13th ed. 1891; Times, 16 Dec. 1891.]

J. B. N.