Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Youatt, William

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YOUATT, WILLIAM (1776–1847), veterinary surgeon, born in 1776, was the son of a surgeon residing at Exeter. He was educated for the nonconformist ministry. In 1810 he left Devonshire, and undertook ministerial and scholastic duties in London. At some uncertain date, in 1812 or 1813, he joined Delabere Pritchett Blaine (1768–1848) in conducting a veterinary infirmary in Wells Street, Oxford Street. This partnership continued for a little more than twelve years, when the business passed into Youatt's hands.

In 1828 Youatt began to deliver a series of lectures and demonstrations to veterinary students at his private residence and infirmary in Nassau Street. These were independent of, and to some extent designed to supplement, the teaching of the Royal Veterinary College. From the end of 1830 these lectures were delivered at the ‘London University,’ i.e. University College. In 1835 they were abandoned, but instead Youatt continued for four years to print a monthly series of written lectures in the ‘Veterinarian,’ a professional monthly which he had started in 1828. In this venture he was soon joined by William Percivall, veterinary surgeon to the 1st life guards. This journal, which is still in existence, was kept alive in the early years only by Youatt's dogged perseverance, at a time when even his co-editor, Percivall, wished to abandon the venture.

In 1830 Youatt entered into an arrangement with the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge to write a series of handbooks on the breeds, management, and diseases of the different animals of the farm. The volumes continued to appear at irregular intervals during the ensuing ten years. In 1839 a testimonial was presented to Youatt by various members of the veterinary profession as a mark ‘of the high esteem they entertain of his literary labours in veterinary science.’ A full account of the proceedings appeared in the ‘Veterinarian’ (xii. 595–619), and is noteworthy by reason of the long autobiographical speech in which Youatt traced the growth of veterinary literature in his time.

In 1838 the Royal Agricultural Society of England had been founded under the title of the English Agricultural Society. Youatt was one of the original members, and was placed on the committee of management. Here he did important work in moving and obtaining the appointment of a veterinary committee, of which he was appointed chairman, and in attempting with considerable success to draw closer the connection between the Society and the Royal Veterinary College.

Owing partly to his extensive literary work, partly to attacks of gout, Youatt's practice had devolved more and more on his assistant, Ainsley, on whose death in 1844 the establishment in Nassau Street was broken up. Youatt, though now standing at the head of his profession, was not a registered member of it; he objected to the constitution of the examining body of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, which consisted chiefly of physicians and surgeons. When, however, in 1844, this body was remodelled, and composed chiefly of veterinarians, Youatt, being then nearly seventy years old, presented himself for examination. The difficulty occasioned by his refusal to answer a professional question rather impertinently put to him was overruled by the tact of the chairman, who handed him his diploma on the spot.

Youatt died suddenly on 5 Feb. 1847 in his seventy-first year, and was buried in the churchyard of Old St. Pancras. He had four daughters, but no sons. A small portrait of him, by Richard Ansdell, is in the possession of the Royal Agricultural Society of England.

Youatt wrote: 1. ‘Canine Madness,’ 1830 (practically a reprint of articles which had been issued in the ‘Veterinarian’). 2. ‘The Horse’ (with a treatise on draught, by Isambard Kingdom Brunel), 1831; new edit. 1843 (to this work was added in the posthumous editions an appendix by William Charles Spooner [q. v.], bringing the work up to date). 3. ‘Cattle, their Breeds, Management, and Diseases,’ 1834. With this subject Youatt was at the time much less familiar than with the treatment of the diseases of horses, and the veterinary part of the work is to be regarded rather as a well-digested compilation than as an original treatise. 4. ‘Sheep, their Breeds, Management, and Diseases,’ to which is added the ‘Mountain Shepherd's Manual,’ 1837. 5. An essay on ‘The Obligation and Extent of Humanity to Brutes, principally considered with reference to the Domesticated Animals,’ 1839. 6. ‘The Dog,’ 1845. This, like his previous works on the horse, cattle, and sheep, formed part of the ‘Library of Useful Knowledge.’ It was also reprinted as part of ‘Knight's Farmers' Library.’ 7. ‘The Pig: a Treatise on the Breeds, Management, Feeding, and Medical Treatment of Swine; with Directions for salting Pork and curing Bacon and Hams,’ 1847; new edit. 1860, enlarged and rewritten by Samuel Sidney [q. v.] On the title-page of the 1847 edition of this work, which was issued after his death, Youatt is referred to as the editor of the ‘Complete Grazier,’ and modern editions—that of R. Scott Burn in 1877 and of Dr. Fream in 1893—refer to the work as Youatt's. The book was, however, first compiled in the eighteenth century. The sixth edition (1833) and seventh (1839) are supposed to have been edited by Youatt, though intrinsic evidence for this is lacking. Youatt also wrote much in the ‘Veterinarian,’ and made some contributions to the Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society.

[Professor J. B. Simonds's Biogr. Sketch of William Youatt, 1896; Veterinarian, passim, especially obituary notice, xx. 105–6; Journal Roy. Agric. Soc. 3rd ser. 1893, iv. 411–21; Farmers' Mag. 2nd ser. January 1847, xv. 195; Koch's Encyklopädie der gesammten Thierheilkunde, s.v. ‘Youatt.’]

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