Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Stewart, Charles

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STEWART, CHARLES (1840–1907), comparative anatomist, born in Princess Square, Plymouth, on 18 May 1840, was son of Thomas Anthony Stewart of Princess Square, Plymouth, M.D. of Leyden and surgeon to the Plymouth public dispensary, by his wife Harriet Howard. Charles was educated at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, and was admitted M.R.C.S. England in 1862. After practising for four years at Plymouth, he was appointed in 1866 curator of the museum at St. Thomas's Hospital, then situated in the Surrey Gardens. In 1871, shortly after the removal of the hospital to the Albert Embankment, he was appointed lecturer on comparative anatomy in the medical school, and in 1881 he became lecturer on physiology jointly with Dr. John Harley. He was also professor of biology and physiology at the Bedford College for Women from 1882–4. He left St. Thomas's Hospital in 1884 on his appointment as conservator of the Hunterian museum at the Royal College of Surgeons in succession to Sir William Henry Flower [q. v. Suppl. I]. In 1886 he became Hunterian professor of comparative anatomy and physiology at the college, and gave an annual course of lectures until 1902. Stewart fully maintained at the college the Hunterian tradition. Abreast of the current knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and bacteriology, which together make up modern pathology, he was able to utilise to the best advantage the stores of specimens collected by John Hunter. His dissections enabled him to correlate many facts for the first time, and his results were set forth in his lectures. In 1885 he lectured on the structure and life history of the hydrozoa; in 1886 and 1887 on the organs of hearing; in 1889 and again in 1896 on the integumental system; in 1890 on phosphorescent organs and colour; in 1891 on secondary sexual characters; in 1895 on the endoskeleton; in 1897 on joints, and on the protection and nourishment of the young; in 1899 on the alternation of generations. He spoke without notes and drew admirably on the blackboard, illustrating his remarks from the stores of the museum. But unhappily the lectures were neither published nor reported, and only remain in the memories of his auditors or in their scanty notes. His valuable work survives alone in the catalogues of the Hunterian museum.

In spite of ill-health Stewart was active outside the College of Surgeons. From 1894 to 1897 he was Fullerian professor of physiology at the Royal Institution, where on two occasions he delivered the ’Friday evening' discourse. In 1866 he was elected a fellow of the Linnean Society, and served as its president (1890-4). He also took an active part in founding the Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland, of which he was the original treasurer (1887-1892). He also served as secretary of the Royal Microscopical Society from 1879 to 1883. He was deeply interested in the welfare of the Marine Biological Association which was established at Plymouth, his native place. He was admitted F.R.S. in 1896, and in 1899 he received the honorary degree of LL.D. from Aberdeen. He died in London on 27 Sept. 1907, and was buried at Highgate cemetery. He married in 1867 Emily Browne, and left three sons and two daughters.

[Lancet, 1907, ii. 1061; Brit. Med. Journal, 1907, ii. 1023; Proc. Royal Soc. 1908, vol. lxxx. p. lxxxii; Field, 5 Oct. 1907; personal knowledge.]

D’A. P.