Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Poore, George Vivian

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POORE, GEORGE VIVIAN (1843–1904), physician and authority on sanitation, born at Andover on 23 Sept. 1843, was youngest of ten children of Commander John Poore, R.N., who had retired from the service on the reduction of the navy in 1815. His mother was Martha Midlane. In his early days he was destined for his father's profession, and after education at home was sent at the age of ten to the Royal Naval School at New Cross, where he stayed until he was nearly seventeen. Here he gained a medal for good conduct, but having determined to enter the medical profession declined a marine cadetship. He began his medical training by an apprenticeship at Broughton near Winchester under Dr. Luther Fox, father of Dr. [[Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/{{{2}}}, William Tilbury Fox|William Tilbury Fox {{{2}}}]] [q. v.]. On leaving Dr. Fox he matriculated at the University of London and entered as a student at University College Hospital, qualifying as M.R.C.S. England in 1866. During the same year he acted as surgeon to the Great Eastern while she was employed in the laying of the Atlantic cable.'

In 1868 he graduated M.B. and B.S. at the University of London, proceeding to the doctorate in1871. In 1870 he was admitted a member of the Royal College of Physicians of London, and in 1877 was elected a fellow. During 1870 and 1871 he travelled as medical attendant with Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, and he remained in charge of his health until 1877. In 1872 he was selected by Queen Victoria to accompany Edward VII, when Prince of Wales, during his convalescence in the south of France after his severe attack of typhoid fever. In 1872, too, Poore became lecturer on medical jurisprudence at Charing Cross Hospital, and gave a course of lectures on the 'Medical Uses of Electricity,' a study which was then in its infancy. In 1876 he was elected assistant physician to University College Hospital and professor of medical jurisprudence and clinical medicine. Among his colleagues were Sir William Jenner, Sir John Russell Reynolds, Sir John Erichsen, Tilbury Fox, Grailly Hewett, and Sir Henry Thompson. In 1876 he also published his 'Text Book of Electricity in Medicine and Surgery,' at the time the most complete and useful English work on the subject.

Poore was a brilliant lecturer, his delivery being admirable, and his matter being always well arranged. His lectures on medical jurisprudence were published as 'A Treatise on Medical Jurisprudence' (1901; 2nd edit. 1902). In 1883 he was elected full physician to the hospital, and held this post with his professorship until May 1903, when failing health compelled his retirement to his country house at Andover. He died there on 23 Nov. 1904 from cardiac failure due to aortic disease. He was unmarried.

Outside his purely medical work Poore was well known both to the medical profession and to the public as an ardent sanitarian. In 1891 he was general secretary of the sanitary congress. In his garden at Andover he proved that living humus had a powerful disinfecting property. In his 'Essays on Rural Hygiene' (1893), chapter iv., entitled 'The Living Earth,' he set forth this opinion with characteristic charm of style and wealth of illustration. He dealt with sanitation and with the wastefulness of the water carriage of sewage in his Milroy lectures for 1899, 'The Earth in Relation to the Destruction and Preservation of Contagia' (1902, with appendix of public addresses), and in 'The Dwelling House' (2nd edit. 1898). His views were regarded by many sanitary authorities as heretical, but he proved their practical value as far as the country dwelling was concerned.

Poore also published, together with contributions to medical journals and orations upon dietetic and sanitary matters:

  1. 'Physical Diagnosis of Diseases of the Throat, Mouth, and Nose,' 1881.
  2. 'London Ancient and Modern from the Sanitary and Medical Point of View,' 1889.
  3. 'Nervous Affections of the Hand,' 1897.

[Lancet, 10 Dec. 1904; British Medical Journal, 3 Dec. 1904; information from friends; personal knowledge.]

H. P. C.