Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pinckard, George

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PINCKARD, GEORGE, M.D. (1768–1835), physician, son of Henry Pinckard of Handley Hall, Northamptonshire, was born in 1768, and after tuition by a relative, a clergyman, studied medicine first at the then united hospitals of St. Thomas's and Guy's, then at Edinburgh, and finally at Leyden, where he graduated M.D. on 20 June 1792. He resided afterwards for a short time with his brother and sister at Copet, near Geneva, and witnessed the capture of the city by the French under General Montesquieu (Notes on West Indies, p. 84). On 30 Sept. 1794 he was admitted a licentiate of the College of Physicians of London. In October 1795 he was appointed a physician to the forces, and in that capacity accompanied Sir Ralph Abercromby's expedition to the West Indies. He was on the St. Domingo staff, and had many delays before starting, during which he made the acquaintance of James Lind, M.D. (1716–1794) [q. v.], then in charge of Haslar Hospital. On 15 Nov. 1795 he sailed in the Ulysses, but after a fortnight of storms had to return to Portsmouth, and finally sailed for the West Indies in the Lord Sheffield on 31 Dec. 1795, and reached Carlisle Bay, Barbados, on 13 Feb. 1796, after a stormy voyage. In his ‘Notes on the West Indies’ (3 vols. 1806; 2nd ed. 2 vols. 1816), which were originally written as letters to a friend at home, he describes at great length what he saw in the West Indies and Guiana, often dwelling upon the horrible incidents of slavery which came under his notice.

In 1798 he was in Ireland, and served in the rebellion of that year on the staff of General Hulse. He was promoted for his services to the rank of deputy inspector-general of hospitals, and had part of the direction of the medical service in the Duke of York's expedition to the Helder. On his return he took a house in Great Russell Street, afterwards moved to Bloomsbury Square, London, and resided there till his death. He established the Bloomsbury Dispensary, and was physician to it for thirty years. In 1808 was published ‘Dr. Pinckard's Case of Hydrophobia,’ the account of a sawyer at Chipping Barnet, Hertfordshire, aged 25, who was bitten by a dog on 14 Sept., seemed well for a few days, but on 26 Nov. developed hydrophobia, which was fatal on 28 Nov. He subsequently published in the ‘London Medical Journal’ two other cases of hydrophobia, and reprinted the three, with that of a man whom he saw at Battle Bridge, London, in 1819 in a pamphlet entitled ‘Cases of Hydrophobia,’ and dedicated to John Latham, M.D. [q. v.] Full descriptions of the post-mortem appearances are given in all the cases but one. He declares himself strongly in favour of immediate excision of the whole wound, or of its absolute destruction by the cautery. In April 1835 he published ‘Suggestions for restoring the Moral Character and the Industrious Habits of the Poor; also for establishing District Work-farms in place of Parish Workhouses, and for reducing the Poor-rates.’ He recommends the cultivation of farms laid out for the purpose by the spade-labour of paupers. He had long had angina pectoris, and died in an attack while writing a prescription for a patient in his consulting-room on 15 May 1835.

[Works; Munk's Coll. of Phys. ii. p. 436; autograph note in one of his books in the Library of Royal Medical and Chirurgical Soc. of London.]

N. M.