Clarke, Jacob Augustus Lockhart (DNB00)

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CLARKE, JACOB AUGUSTUS LOCKHART (1817–1880), anatomist, was born in 1817. His father dying early, young Clarke was brought up by his mother in France. On returning to England he chose the medical profession, to which his elder brother and grandfather belonged, and studied at Guy’s and St. Thomas’s Hospitals. Having obtained the diploma of the Apothecaries’ Society, he began practice at Pimlico, living with his mother. He became devoted to microscopical research on the brain and nervous system, and applying a new method (‘which has revolutionised histological research,’ Lancet, 1880, i. 189), and proceeding with extreme care and thoroughness, he established many new facts of structure which had important bearings on the physiology and pathology of the nervous system. His first paper, ‘Researches into the Structure of the Spinal Cord,’ was received by the Royal Society on 15 Oct. 1850, and published in their ‘Transactions’ for 1851. It was illustrated, like many of his subsequent papers, by extremely accurate and valuable drawings by himself, and these have been subsequently reproduced in numerous works. Few men have ever done so much original work while occupied with general medical practice, as his successive papers in the Royal Society’s ‘Transactions’ and ‘Proceedings; the ‘Medico-Chirurgical’ transactions,’ the ‘Journal of the Microscopical Society.' Beale’s ‘Archives of Medicine,' &c., testify. He received the royal medal of the Royal Society in 1861, and in 1867 he was elected an honorary follow of the King and Queen’s College of Physicians, Ireland. Late in life he attended St. George’s Hospital and qualified as a surgeon, still later obtained the M.D. St. Andrews (1869), and became a member of the London College of Physicians (1871), and entered upon consulting practice in nervous diseases. He became physician to the Hospital for Epilepsy and Paralysis, but gained no great amount of practice, probably owing to is retired habits, and his having published no book by which the public could judge of his work. He died on 25 Jan. 1880 of pthisis.

The ‘Lancet’ describes him as ‘a man single of purpose, of noble independence and honesty, wholly free from ambition, and wanting in that knowledge of the world necessary for making way in it.’ Besides the memoirs above referred to, for lists of which see ‘Royal Society’s Catalogue of Scientific Papers; vols. i. and ii.; Catalogue of the Library of the Medico-Chirurgical Society,’ 1879, Clarke wrote the articles on affections out the muscular system on diseases of nerves, and on locomotor ataxy: in Holmes’s 'System of Surgery,' 1870.

[Lancet, Median Times, and British Medical Journal, 31 Jan. 1880.]

G. T. B.