Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Gee, Samuel Jones

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GEE, SAMUEL JONES (1839–1911), physician, son of William Gee by his wife Lydia Sutton, was born in London on 13 Sept. 1839. His father had a position of trust in a business house and his mother was a person of remarkable ability. In 1847 he was sent to a private school at Enfield and then to University College school in London from 1852 till 1854. He matriculated at the University of London in May 1857, studied medicine at University College, graduated M.B. in 1861 and M.D. in 1865. He was elected a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1870. He was appointed a resident house surgeon at the Hospital for Sick Children in Great Ormond Street, London, in 1865, and there became known to (Sir) Thomas Smith [q. v. Suppl. II], the surgeon, through whose influence he was elected assistant physician at St. Bartholomew's Hospital on 5 March 1868. On 24 Oct. 1878 he was elected physician and on 22 Sept. 1904 consulting physician, so continuing till his death. In the school of St. Bartholomew's he was demonstrator of morbid anatomy (1870-4), lecturer on pathological anatomy (1872-8), and lecturer on medicine (1878-93). He was also assistant physician and physician to the Hospital for Sick Children and became one of the chief authorities of his time on the diseases of children. At the Royal College of Physicians he delivered the Gulstonian lectures 'On the heat of the body' in 1871, the Bradshaw lecture 'On the signs of acute peritoneal diseases' in 1892, and the Lumleian lectures 'On the causes and forms of bronchitis and the nature of pulmonary emphysema and asthma' in 1899. He was a censor in the college in 1893-4 and senior censor in 1897. He attained a large practice and was consulted in all branches of medicine. He was appointed physician to George, Prince of Wales, in 1901. His observation was acute and systematic and his treatment always judicious. He deserved the reputation which he attained of being one of the first physicians of his time. He wrote many papers on medical subjects, nearly all of which have permanent value. The earliest were on chicken-pox, scarlet fever, and tubercular meningitis, and appeared in Reynolds's 'System of Medicine,' vols. i. and ii. (1866 and 1868), and forty-six others appeared in the 'St. Bartholomew's Hospital Reports.' He published in 1870 'Auscultation and Percussion, together with other Methods of Physical Examination of the Chest' (5th edit. 1906), which is at once the most exact and the most literary account of its subject in English. Robert Bridges in his 'Carmen Elegiacum' of 1877 has described Gee's appearance and methods of demonstration at the period of his work upon this book:

'Teque auscultantem palpantem et percutientem
Pectora, sic morbi ducere signa vident.'

Gee's only other book was 'Medical Lectures and Aphorisms,' which appeared in 1902 and has had three editions. It contains fourteen lectures or essays and 272 aphorisms collected by Dr. T. J. Horder, once his house physician. The aphorisms represent very well the form of Gee's teaching at the bedside. Its dogmatic method he had learned from Sir William Jenner [q. v. Suppl. I], but his own reading of seventeenth-century literature coloured his expressions both in speaking and writing. His description of the child's head in hydrocephalus as distinguished from the enlarged skull of rickets and his observations on enlarged spleen in children are the passages of his writings which may most justly be considered as scientific discoveries. He wrote a short essay on Sydenham {St. Bartholomew's Hospital Reports, vol. xix.), one on Abraham Cowley (St. Bartholomew's Hospital Journal, 1903), and an article on the death of Andrew Marvell {Athenæum, 5 Sept. 1874).

He was librarian of the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society from 1887 to 1899, and had a wide knowledge of books on medicine, his favourite English medical writers being Sydenham, Morton, and Heberden. He read Montaigne often, and had studied Milton, Phineas Fletcher, and Hobbes.

During the period of his active practice in London he lived first at 54 Harley Street, and then at 31 Upper Brook Street, Grosvenor Square. He died suddenly of heart disease at Keswick on 3 Aug. 1911. His remains were cremated, and his ashes deposited in the columbarium of Kensal Green cemetery, London. He married, on 7 Dec. 1875, Sarah, daughter of Emanuel Cooper, Mr. Robert Bridges, the poet, being his best man. His wife died before him, and they had two daughters, of whom one survived her father.

[Personal knowledge; St. Bart. Hosp. Reports, vol. xlvii.; St. Bart. Hosp. Journal, Oct. and Nov. 1911, obit. notices by Norman Moore, Howard Marsh, and T. J. Horder; works.]

N. M.