Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hulme, Nathaniel

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

HULME, NATHANIEL, M.D. (1732–1807), physician, was born on 17 June 1732 at Hulme Thorp, near Halifax, Yorkshire. After serving his apprenticeship with his brother, a medical practitioner at Halifax he proceeded to Guy's Hospital, and in 1755 joined the navy as surgeon's mate. Being stationed at Leith after the peace of 1763, he attended the medical classes at Edinburgh, and graduated M.D. there in 1765; his thesis was 'De Scorbuto,' a disease which his naval experience had brought him into contact with. Coming to London, he commenced practice in Hatton Garden, whence he dated, in May 1768, a Latin essay on scurvy (an expansion of his thesis), with an appendix in English showing that the benefits of lime juice on long voyages had been familiar to the English since the sixteenth century. On the founding of the General Dispensary for the Relief of the Poor, Hulme was elected its first physician. Previous to 1772 he was appointed physician to the City of London Lying-in Hospital, an office which did not include obstetric practice, and, as he is careful to point out, was not tenable by an accoucheur. His 'Treatise on the Puerperal Fever' (London, 1772) was the outcome of his experience at the lying-in hospital. Like the essay on scurvy it shows learning as well as observation. On 17 March 1774 he was elected physician to the Charterhouse by the interest of Lord Sandwich, first lord of the admiralty, and removed to Charterhouse Square, where he resided until his death. At the same time he joined the College of Physicians, but never became a fellow. On 18 Jan. 1777 he gave an 'Oratio de Re Medica' before the Medical Society, with an addition of the case of a Charterhouse pensioner, aged 73, in whom he had succeeded in dissolving or breaking up a stone within the bladder by the following prescription: fifteen grains of salt of tartar, in three ounces of pure water, four times a day, followed immediately by a draught of water containing twenty drops of weak spirit of vitriol. The alleged result was that hundreds of fragments of calculus came away for several weeks, and that the patient remained in good health, according to the latest accounts of him, a year after. The same remedy was advocated by him the following year (1778), also for scurvy, gout, and worms, in a quarto pamphlet, with an appendix on an extemporaneous method of impregnating water and other liquids with fixed air, by simple mixture only, without the assistance of an apparatus or complicated machine. In 1787 he received a gold medal from the Medical Society of Paris for an essay upon a question proposed as to sclerosis of the cellular tissue in the new born. He was elected F.R.S. in 1794, and contributed two papers to the 'Philosophical Transactions' in 1800 and 1801 (vols. xc. and xci.) on 'Experiments and Observations on the Light which is spontaneously emitted from various Bodies' (papers on same subject in Nicholson's Journal, 1800 and 1802; Watt, Bibl. Brit.) He was also a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and contributed to 'Archæologia' (xiv. 1803) an 'Account of a Brick brought from the site of Ancient Babylon.' He died on 28 March 1807 from the effects of a fall from the roof of his house, to which he had ascended to observe the damage done to the chimneys by a hurricane. He was buried at his request in the pensioners' burial-ground of the Charterhouse. The `Gentleman's Magazine' gives the text of his last prayer as an evidence of his piety. His portrait by Medley was engraved.

[Gent. Mag. 1807, pt. i. p. 487; Georgian Era, ii. 570; Rose's Biog.Dict.; Watts's Bibl. Brit.;Munk's Coll. of Phys. ii. 298; Hulme's writings.]

C. C.