Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Sieveking, Edward Henry

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

SIEVEKING, Sir EDWARD HENRY (1816–1904), physician, born on 24 Aug. 1816 at 1 St. Helen's Place, Bishopsgate Street Within, London, was eldest son of Edward Henry Sieveking (1790-1868), a merchant who removed from Hamburg to London in 1809, by his wife Emerentia Luise, daughter of Senator J. V. Meyer (1745–1811) of Hamburg. The Sievekings long held a foremost position in Hamburg in commerce and municipal affairs. The father returned to Germany and served in the Hanseatic legion throughout the war of liberation (1813-14); he was a linguist, speaking five languages fluently and two fairly well (cf. H. Crabb Robinson's Diary, ii. 196). A life of Sir Edward's aunt, Amelia Wilhelmina Sieveking (1794–1859), a pioneer in philanthropic work in Hamburg, and the friend of Queen Caroline of Denmark and of Mrs. Elizabeth Fry, was translated from the German by Catherine Winkworth [q. v.] in 1863.

After early education in England Sieveking went in 1830 to the gymnasiums at Ratzeburg and at Berlin; in 1837 he entered the University of Berlin and studied anatomy and physiology, the latter under Johann Müller. During 1838 he worked at surgery at Bonn, and returning to England devoted two years to medicine at University College and graduated M.D. at Edinburgh in 1841, with a thesis on erysipelas. After a further year abroad, spent in visiting the hospitals of Paris, Vienna, Würzburg, and Berlin, he settled down in 1843 to practise among the English colony in Hamburg, and was associated with his aunt in founding a children's hospital there. Returning to London in 1847, Sieveking became a licentiate (corresponding to member) of the Royal College of Physicians, and while settling in practice, first in Brook Street and then in Bentinck Street, took an active part in advocating the nursing of the sick poor. In 1851 he because assistant physician to St. Mary's Hospital, being one of the original staff and the writer of the first prescription in that institution, where in due course he lectured on materia medica for sixteen years and was physician (1866–1887) and consulting physician. In 1855 he assisted John Propert in founding Epsom College, a school for the sons of medical men. He was also physician to the London Lock Hospital (1864–89) and to the National Hospital for the paralysed and epileptic (1864–7). He became a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1852, and in 1858 he took a prominent part in bringing about the first reform at the college for 336 years, which gave to the general body of the fellows powers formerly enjoyed only by 'the eight elect.' He held numerous offices there, being censor in 1869, 1870, 1879, 1881, and vice-president in 1888; he delivered the Croonian lectures (1866) 'On the localisation of disease' and the Harveian oration (1877), containing a description of the MS. of Harvey's lectures, which had just been rediscovered. His reputation as a consulting physician was recognised by his election as president of the Harveian Society (1861), and of the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society (1888), and as first honorary president of the British Balneological and Climatological Society (1895). He was a staunch supporter of the British Medical Association, and served on its council. He was also appointed in 1863 physician in ordinary to Edward VII when Prince of Wales; in 1873 physician extraordinary, and in 1888 physician in ordinary to Queen Victoria, and physician extraordinary to Edward VII in 1902. He was made hon. LL.D. of Edinburgh in 1884 at the tercentenary of the University. Together with Sir David Brewster and Dr. Charles Murchison he founded the Edinburgh University Club in London in 1864. He was knighted in 1886.

Sieveking, who invented in 1858 an aesthesiometer, an instrument for testing the sensation of the skin, was author of: 'A Treatise on Ventilation' (in German, Hamburg, 1846); 'The Training Institutions for Nurses and the Workhouses' (1849); 'Manual of Pathological Anatomy' (1854, with C. Handfield Jones, the illustrations reproducing excellent water-colours by Sieveking; 2nd edit. 1875, ed. by J. F. Payne); ' On Epilepsy and Epileptiform Seizures' (1858; 2nd edit. 1861); 'Practical Remarks on Laryngeal Disease as illustrated by the Laryngoscope' (1862); 'The Medical Adviser in Life Assurance' (1873; 2nd edit. 1882). He translated Rokitansky's 'Pathological Anatomy' (vol. ii. 1849) and Romberg's 'Nervous Diseases' (2 vols. 1853) for the Sydenham Society. He also edited the 'British and Foreign Medico-Chirurgical Review' from 1855, and contributed largely to medical periodicals, especially on nervous diseases, climatology, and nursing.

Sieveking died at his house, 17 Manchester Square, W., on 24 Feb. 1904, and was buried in the family grave at Abney Park cemetery, Stoke Newington. A portrait painted in 1866 by W. S. Herrick and a pastel picture by Carl Hartmann done in 1847 are in the possession of his family. A posthumous portrait is at the Royal Academy of Medicine. There is a brass tablet to his memory in the ancient chapel of the crypt beneath St. John's church, Clerkenwell, on which he is described as 'an ardent worker for the ambulance department of the Order (of St. John of Jerusalem) since 1878.' He had been gazetted a Knight of Grace in 1896.

Sieveking married, on 5 Sept. 1849, Jane, daughter of John Ray, J.P., of Finchley, and had issue eight sons and three daughters, the eldest of whom, Florence Amelia, married firstly Dr. L. Wooldridge and secondly Prof. E. H. Starling, F.R.S., and has translated some of Metchnikoff's works. A son, Mr. A. Forbes Sieveking, F.S.A., is well known as a writer on gardens and fencing.

[Lancet, 1904, i. 680; Med.-Chir. Trans., 1905, lxxxviii. p. cviii; Presidential Address to the Royal College of Physicians by Sir W. S. Church, 23 March 1904; information from his son, Herbert Sieveking, M.R.C.S.]

H. D. R.