Garrod, Alfred Henry (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

GARROD, ALFRED HENRY (1846–1879), zoologist, eldest child of Dr. (afterwards Sir) Alfred Baring Garrod (1819–1907), an eminent physician, was born in Charterhouse Square, London, on 18 May 1846. He was educated at University College School, and entered University College in October 1862. He owed much of his scientific enthusiasm to Professor Sharpey's lectures on physiology, and also received a marked bias towards mathematical and mechanical studies from Professor De Morgan. In October 1864 he entered as a medical student at King's College, London, gaining a Warneford scholarship at entrance, and the medical scholarship in three successive years. In 1868 he became a licentiate of the Apothecaries' Society, and won an exhibition for natural science at St. John's College, Cambridge, where he commenced residence in October. During his university course he made several interesting researches on the causes of the varying temperature of the human body and on the circulation of the blood, and made some improvements in the sphygmograph. In 1870 he was elected to a foundation scholarship at St. John's, and in December 1871 he was placed senior in the natural sciences tripos. His election to a fellowship at St. John's in November 1873 was the first instance there of this distinction being given for natural science. In June 1871 Garrod was elected prosector to the Zoological Society, and he pursued his work in the dissecting room of the Zoological Gardens, Regent's Park, with devoted ardour till his death. The great quantity of material continually accumulating there for research drew him into almost exclusively zoological work. The anatomy of birds came his favourite study, and he was soon able to work out on a more extensive scale many of Nitzsch's observations on pterylography, and to add many new facts, especially in the myology of birds. In 1874 he was elected professor of comparative anatomy at King's College, London, which post he continued to hold till within a few weeks of his death. In 1875 he was appointed Fullerian professor of physiology at the Royal Institution, having previously lectured there on ‘The Heart and the Sphygmograph’ and on ‘Animal Locomotion.’ As Fullerian professor he gave twelve lectures in 1875 on ‘The Classification of Vertebrate Animals,’ in 1877 on ‘The Human Form: Its Structure in relation to its Contour,’ and in 1878 on ‘The Protoplasmic Theory of Life, and its bearing on Physiology.’ All these courses were illustrated by models and experiments, which he devised with great ingenuity, thus rendering the lectures very popular. In 1875 he delivered several of the Davis lectures at the Zoological Gardens, dealing with the various groups of ruminating animals. For several years he acted as one of the sub-editors of ‘Nature,’ writing many articles and reviews on biological subjects. In 1876 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society, and undertook to write a comprehensive work, aided by a government grant, on the anatomy of birds, of which only a portion was completed at his death. In 1876–8 he was examiner in zoology in the Cambridge natural sciences tripos. In June 1878 he was seized with severe pulmonary hæmorrhage, but continued to work indefatigably. After conducting the tripos examination in December 1878, he wintered in the Riviera, but returned to London unrelieved. He continued to work as much as possible, occupying himself at last, when too ill to go to the gardens, with dissecting and comparing the trachea in different groups of birds. He died of phthisis on 17 Oct. 1879, aged 33.

Garrod was highly esteemed by a large circle of friends, and his rooms at the Zoological Society were a centre of work and inquiry, in which he was ever ready to afford assistance or to direct study. He was always cheerful and unselfish, with a strong and energetic character and a wide range of information and interest. In zoology Garrod's work is of permanent value. His most important paper on mammalian anatomy, ‘On the Visceral Anatomy and Osteology of the Ruminants,’ was read before the Zoological Society in 1877, developing important points in the classification of the group, and suggesting the adoption of a system of nomenclature which should indicate more precisely than the binomial the true affinities of animals. His great energy enabled him to take full advantage of the exceptional opportunities of dissecting animals during his prosectorship. Thus he had dissected no fewer than five rhinoceroses belonging to three different species, and his papers on these are of great value. On the anatomy of birds he was in the front rank at the time of his death, and his papers ‘On the Carotid Arteries of Birds,’ ‘On Certain Muscles in the Thigh of Birds, and on their value in Classification,’ on columbæ, on parrots, and several on the anatomy of passerine birds, and on the trachea of gallinæ, are of permanent importance. Garrod's scientific papers were collected by a committee of zoologists, and published in one large volume in 1881, edited with a biographical notice by W. A. Forbes [q. v.], his successor in the prosectorship at the Zoological Gardens. A portrait of Garrod, etched by H. Herkomer, is prefixed to the volume. These papers will also be found in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, the Proceedings of the Zoological Society, Journal of Anatomy and Physiology, ‘Ibis,’ and ‘Nature,’ between 1869 and 1879. He contributed the important section ‘Ruminantia’ to Cassell's ‘Natural History.’ He also edited with valuable notes the translation of Johannes Müller's celebrated paper on the vocal organs of passerine birds (by Professor F. J. Bell), published by the Clarendon Press in 1879.

[Forbes's Biog. Notice prefixed to Garrod's Collected Scientific Papers, 1881; Ibis, 1881, p. 32.]

G. T. B.