Cooke, John (1756-1838) (DNB00)

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COOKE, JOHN (1756–1838), physician, born in 1756 in Lancashire, was educated by Dr. Doddridge to be a dissenting minister. He preached at Rochdale and at Preston, but preferred medicine, came to study at Guy's Hospital in London, completed his education at Edinburgh and Leyden, and graduated in the latter university. His thesis was on the use of Peruvian bark in cases where there is no rise of temperature. He settled in London and became physician to the Royal General Dispensary in Bartholomew Close. No out-patients were then seen at the neighbouring hospital, so that the dispensary offered a large field of observation. In April 1784 he was elected physician to the London Hospital, which office he held for twenty-three years, and delivered the first clinical lectures ever given in that institution. On 25 June in the same year he was admitted a licentiate of the College of Physicians. In 1799 an alarm of plague was raised in London by the sudden death of two men who had been employed in carrying bales of cotton ashore. Cooke, at the request of the lord mayor, investigated the circumstances, and showed that the alarm was groundless. In 1807 he was elected a fellow of the College of Physicians, and ten years later F.R.S. He delivered the Croonian lectures at the College of Physicians in 1819, 1820, 1821, and the Harveian oration in 1832. In 1820 he began the publication of ‘A Treatise on Nervous Diseases,’ which was continued in 1821 and completed in 1823, and is usually bound in two volumes. An American edition, in one volume, was published at Boston in 1824. This work is based on his Croonian lectures. It gives an account of the existing knowledge of hemiplegia, paraplegia, paralysis of separate nerves, epilepsy, apoplexy, lethargy, and hydrocephalus internus. It shows considerable clinical acquaintance with the subject and a careful study of old writers, but the imperfect state of knowledge of this part of medicine is illustrated by the fact that apoplexy and hemiplegia are treated as subjects having no relation to one another. Cooke and Dr. Thomas Young were friends, and there is considerable resemblance between the general method of Young's ‘Treatise on Phthisis’ and Cooke's ‘On Nervous Diseases.’ Both show careful thought on the subject and much reading, and both are trustworthy as representations of all that was known in their time, while neither contains any important addition to medical knowledge. Cooke was president of the Medico-Chirurgical Society in 1822 and 1823. During his latter years he gave up practice and went little into society. He was a well-read man, and throughout life studied and enjoyed Homer. He died at his house in Gower Street, London, 1 Jan. 1838.

[Munk's Coll. of Phys. iii. 53; Pettigrew's Biographical Memoirs; Curling's Address at the London Hospital, 1846.]

N. M.