Ledwich, Thomas Hawkesworth (DNB00)

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LEDWICH, THOMAS HAWKESWORTH (1823–1858), anatomist and surgeon, was born in 1823 at Pembroke, where his family temporarily resided. His grandfather was Edward Ledwich [q. v.], the Irish antiquary. His father, Edward Ledwich, was an attorney who practised in Waterford. His mother's maiden name was Catharine Eleanor Hawkesworth. Thomas was educated at Waterford, and after having been apprenticed for some time to a medical practitioner in that city studied medicine in Dublin. He became a fellow of the Irish College of Surgeons in 1845, and immediately devoted himself to teaching and to anatomical research. In 1847 he became lecturer on anatomy at a private school of medicine in Dublin, then known as 'The Original School of Medicine, Peter Street.' and he remained attached to that institution till his death. He was very popular and successful as a teacher, and was the most active and prominent man in his school. In lecturing he was remarkable for the clearness of his exposition and the vividness of his delivery. He wrote a number of minor contributions to surgical literature, of which the most noticeable were those in which he explained the views of the French school with reference to the drainage of wounds. He was also an industrious reviewer. He was a good pathologist, as pathology was understood in Ireland in his time, and he formed a valuable pathological museum. His great work, however, was a treatise on 'The Anatomy of the Human Body.' which he wrote in conjunction with his brother, Dr. Edward Ledwich, and published in 1852. This book did not contain any remarkable discoveries or new views, but it was a sound and trustworthy compendium of anatomy as then taught, and therefore has value as a landmark, For many years it was a favourite students' text-book, and it remains a popular work in Dublin.

In July 1868 his rapidly rising reputation was recognised by his appointment to the post of surgeon to the Meath Hospital, Dublin, in succession to Sir Philip Crampton [q. v.] On 29 Sept. in the same year he died rather suddenly of pulmonary apoplexy at his residence, York Street, Dublin, and was buried in the Mount Jerome cemetery. From early youth he suffered from heart disease and asthma, and his health was always bad. Not long before his death Ledwich married Isabella, daughter of Robert Murray of Dublin. The teaching body with which he had been connected changed the name of their school from the 'Original' to the 'Ledwich School of Medicine' in his honour shortly after he died. This title it retained till its amalgamation in 1887 with the school of the College of Surgeons. The personal influence and popularity of Ledwich were undoubtedly great.

[Sir G. Cameron's Hist, of Coll. of Surgeons in Ireland; Ormsby's Hist, of Meath Hospital; notices and papers in Dublin Quarterly Journal of Medical Science.]

C. N.