Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Fothergill, John Milner

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FOTHERGILL, JOHN MILNER, M.D. (1841–1888), medical writer, son of a surgeon, was born at Morland, Westmoreland, on 11 April 1841, studied at the university of Edinburgh, and there graduated M.D. 1865. He afterwards studied at Vienna and Berlin and began professional work as a general practitioner at Morland, whence he soon after moved to Leeds, and in 1872 came to London, was admitted a member of the College of Physicians, and endeavoured to get into practice as a physician. He obtained appointments at two small hospitals, the City of London Hospital for Diseases of the Chest and the West London Hospital; but when asked some years later how he throve, replied, ‘The private patient seems to me to be an extinct animal.’ He worked, however, with untiring energy, and wrote ‘The Heart and its Diseases,’ ‘The Practitioner's Handbook of Treatment,’ ‘The Physical Factor in Diagnosis,’ ‘Vaso renal Change versus Bright's Disease.’ In his writings his expressions about those with whom he did not agree are violent, and he often makes positive general assertions without sufficient grounds for them; but he sometimes admitted his errors, and struggled hard with numerous difficulties in life. He was a man of enormous weight, with a large head and very thick neck, and so continued till he died of diabetes, from which and from gout he had long suffered. He resided in Henrietta Street, Cavendish Square, London, and there died on 28 June 1888. A distinguished lecturer on materia medica has expressed the opinion that the most valuable of Fothergill's writings are ‘An Essay on the Action of Digitalis,’ written in his early life, and ‘The Antagonism of Therapeutic Agents, and what it teaches,’ published in 1878.

[Lancet, 14 July 1888; Works; information from Dr. Lauder Brunton.]

N. M.