Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gardner, John

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GARDNER, JOHN (1804–1880), medical writer and practitioner, was born in 1804 at Great Coggeshall in Essex. After completing his medical education (partly under the old system of apprenticeship) in 1829, he settled as licentiate of the Apothecaries' Society in London, where he continued to the end of his life. In 1843 he translated and edited Liebig's ‘Familiar Letters on Chemistry in its relations to Physiology, Dietetics, Agriculture, and Political Economy,’ which passed through several editions, and of which a second series was published a few years later. This led to his making Liebig's personal acquaintance at Giessen (of which university he was made M.D. in 1847), and to his being instrumental in establishing in 1844 the Royal College of Chemistry in Hanover Square, London, of which institution he was secretary till 1846. He also was the means of securing the services of Dr. A. W. Hofmann as the first professor there. He was an active-minded man, and took part in various useful projects. He was for a time professor of chemistry and materia medica to the General Apothecaries' Company, which he had assisted in founding for the preparation and sale of pure drugs under the supervision of scientific chemists and physicians. While connected with this company he was the means of introducing to the notice of the practitioners of this country many valuable drugs from America, among which may especially be mentioned podophyllin (see Lancet, 1862, i. 209, 286, 418). He wrote in various medical periodicals, belonged to the Chemical and Ethnological Societies of London, and in 1860 became, by examination, licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh. He died in Lansdowne Crescent, Notting Hill, London, 14 Nov. 1880. He was a truly religious man, as appears from his principal work, entitled ‘The Great Physician; the Connexion of Diseases and Remedies with the Truths of Revelation,’ London, 8vo, 1843. With the exception of the last chapter, which contains a brief history of epidemic diseases or pestilences, the subject-matter of the volume is entirely theological, written from the standpoint of the well-known ‘Bridgewater Treatises.’ It was favourably noticed in some of the religious journals of the day, but the sale was not sufficient to encourage him to publish the second part of the work, which was to have consisted of medical matters. Among his other works may be mentioned: 1. ‘Household Medicine,’ 9th edition, 1878. 2. ‘Longevity; the Means of Prolonging Life after Middle Age,’ 5th edition, 1878. 3. ‘Hymns for the Sick and Convalescent,’ 2nd edition, 1879. In 1832 Gardner married Miss Julia Emily Moss, who survived him, and in 1881 wrote a little book on ‘Marriage and Maternity.’ By her he had a large family.

[Medical Directory, &c.; personal knowledge; information from his son, the Rev. Dr. D. M. Gardner.]

W. A. G.