Haygarth, John (DNB00)

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HAYGARTH, JOHN (1740–1827), physician, born at Garsdale, Yorkshire, in 1740, was educated at Sedbergh School and at St. John's College, Cambridge, where he graduated M.B. in 1766. He practised as a physician at Chester, and was physician to the Chester Infirmary from 1767 to 1798. He then removed to Bath, where he practised for many years, and died on 10 June 1827. He was a fellow of the Royal Societies of London and Edinburgh. A portrait is in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ for June 1827.

Haygarth first conceived and carried out the plan now universally adopted of treating fever patients in separate wards or hospitals. He long studied the laws of febrile contagion. In 1774 a census of Chester was carried out under his direction, in which he propounded seven questions about the onset and spread of two fevers which had prevailed that year. In a paper entitled ‘Observations on the Population and Diseases of Chester in 1774,’ printed in the ‘Philosophical Transactions’ for 1778, Haygarth suggested the removal of poor persons seized with fever to separate fever wards, spacious and airy. In subsequent years he obtained much accurate information about the spread of small-pox, and in 1784 published ‘An Inquiry how to prevent the Small-pox,’ and in 1793 ‘A Sketch of a Plan to Exterminate the Casual Small-pox, and to introduce General Inoculation,’ in two volumes. Except in their notices of methods applicable to all fevers, these books were superseded in a few years by Jenner's discovery of vaccination. In 1783 Haygarth's plan of separate fever wards was adopted during an epidemic in Chester, whose progress was thus checked, and he was instrumental in introducing his system into other towns. His ‘Letter to Dr. Percival on the Prevention of Infectious Fevers,’ read to the Bath Literary and Philosophical Society, and published at Bath in 1801, is a model scientific treatise, and embodies those principles of isolation, ventilation, and cleanliness which can never go out of date. He was one of the first to distinguish the different kinds of fevers by their periods of incubation. He was the first to insist on isolated school-hospitals; his rules for fever wards and for preventing the spread of infection in private houses were most valuable. His merits were fully recognised by Dr. Lettsom [q. v.] in his ‘Hints designed to promote Beneficence, Temperance, and Medical Science.’ In 1800 he published a tract ‘On the Imagination as a Cause and as a Cure of Disorders of the Body’ (Bath, 8vo), in which he detailed experiments showing that wooden imitations of Perkins's metallic tractors had worked more miracles than those vaunted appliances, and discussed epidemic convulsive disorders. He also wrote two valuable memoirs entitled ‘A Clinical History of Diseases, Part i. of the Acute Rheumatism, and of the Nodosity of the Joints (Rheumatoid Arthritis),’ 1805–12, and ‘Synopsis Pharmacopœiæ Londinensis,’ 1810, besides several papers in the ‘Philosophical Transactions’ and other scientific journals. His ‘Two Letters to John Howard on Lazarettos’ are published in Howard's works, vol. i. 1792. In a ‘Letter to Bishop Porteus,’ 1812, he described the state of the free schools in the north of England; and his plan of self-supporting savings banks, which was adopted in Bath in 1813, is the subject of his ‘Explanation of the Principles and Proceedings of the Provident Institution at Bath for Savings,’ Bath, 1816.

[Gent. Mag. 1827, vol. xcvii. pt. ii. pp. 305–6; Georgian Era, ii. 411, 412; Haygarth's Works, especially his letter to Dr. Percival.]

G. T. B.