Cobbold, Thomas Spencer (DNB00)

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COBBOLD, THOMAS SPENCER, M.D. (1828–1886), helminthologist, was born at Ipswich in 1828, being the third son of the Rev. Richard Cobbold [q. v.] He was educated at the Charterhouse, and in 1844 became a pupil of J. G. Crosse, F.R.S., surgeon to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. In 1847 he proceeded to Edinburgh University, where he became assistant to Professors Hughes Bennett and Goodsir, the latter of whom especially influenced him by his philosophical views of anatomy. In 1851 Cobbold graduated in medicine, being a gold medallist, and after a short visit to Paris returned to Edinburgh and was appointed curator of the anatomical museum. In 1854 the lectures of Edward Forbes attached Cobbold still more deeply to natural history, and his geological field excursions interested him greatly in geology. In 1857 he removed to London, and was appointed lecturer on botany at St. Mary's Hospital, in 1861 obtaining a similar post at the Middlesex Hospital, where he for thirteen years lectured on zoology and comparative anatomy. During this period Cobbold became devoted to helminthology, especially that portion of it dealing with human and animal parasitic worms. Many memoirs on the subject were contributed by him to the learned societies, and he was elected F.R.S. in 1864. In 1865, failing to obtain remunerative work in biology, he commenced medical practice in London, especially as a consultant on cases where the presence of internal parasites was suspected, and in this department gained considerable success. In 1868, through Sir Roderick Murchison's influence, he was appointed Swiney lecturer on geology at the British Museum, which post he held for five years with distinguished success. In 1873 he received an appointment as professor of botany at the Royal Veterinary College, which shortly afterwards instituted a special professorship of helminthology for him. He died of heart disease on 20 March 1886.

Cobbold's work, which was original and painstaking, successfully elucidated many obscure features in the history of animal parasites. His principal books are:

  1. 'Entozoa; an introduction to the study of Helminthology, with reference more particularly to the internal parasites of man,' 1864.
  2. 'Entozoa,' a supplement to the last work, 1869.
  3. 'The Grouse Disease,' 1873.
  4. 'The Internal Parasites of our Domesticated Animals,' 1873.
  5. ' Parasites,' 1879.
  6. ' Tapeworms,' 1866; fourth edition, 1883.
  7. 'Worms,' 1872.
  8. 'Human Parasites,' 1882.
  9. 'Parasites of Meat and Prepared Flesh Food,' 1884.
  10. 'Our Food-producing Ruminants and the Parasites which reside in them,' Cantor Lectures, 1871.
  11. 'Catalogue of the Specimens of Entozoa in the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons of England,' 1866.

Cobbold was a contributor to Todd's 'Cyclopædia of Anatomy and Physiology' (article 'Ruminantia'), supplement, 1858; the Museum of Natural History (mammalian division), 1859; to Quain's 'Dictionary of Medicine' (articles on 'Human Parasites'); and revised the sixth edition of Maunder's 'Treasury of Natural History,' 1862. Many memoirs were contributed by him to the 'Annals of Natural History,' 'Linnean Society's Journal and Transactions,' 'Zoological Society's Proceedings and Transactions,' 'Microscopical Society's Transactions and Journal,' 'Intellectual Observer,' 'Edinburgh New Phil. Journal,' 'British Association Reports,' &c.

[Barker and Tindal Robertson's Photographs of Eminent Medical Men, ii. 1868, pp. 77-81; Midland Medical Miscellany (Leicester), 1 March 1884; Lancet, 27 March 1886, p. 616.]

G. T. B.