Pemberton, Christopher Robert (DNB00)

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PEMBERTON, CHRISTOPHER ROBERT, M.D. (1765–1822), physician, was born in Cambridgeshire in 1765. His grandfather was Sir Francis Pemberton [q. v.], lord chief-justice. After education at Bury St. Edmunds, he entered at Caius College, Cambridge, whence he graduated M.B. in 1789 and M.D. in 1794. He was elected a fellow of the College of Physicians of London on 25 June 1796, was Gulstonian lecturer in 1797, was censor in 1796,1804, and 1811, and delivered the Harveian oration in 1806. He was in that year physician-extraordinary to the Prince of Wales and to the Duke of Cumberland, and afterwards became physician-extraordinary to the king. He was physician to St. George's Hospital from 25 April 1800 till 1808. In 1806 he published ‘A practical Treatise on Various Diseases of the Abdominal Viscera.’ It consists of eleven chapters, treating of the peritoneum, the liver, the gall-bladder, the pancreas, the spleen, the kidneys, the stomach, the intestines, and enteritis. His most original observations are that the disease known as waterbrash is rather a result of imperfect diet than of excess in alcohol (p. 101), that cancer of some parts of the bowel may exist for a long time without grave constitutional symptoms (p. 186), and that the over-exertion of muscles may lead to a condition indistinguishable from palsy (p. 157). This last observation is one of the first contributions in English medical writings to the knowledge of the large group of diseases now known as trade palsies. He recommends the use of a splint supporting the hand in cases of bad palsy of the muscles of the back of the forearm, so common as a result of lead-poisoning. The book shows him to have been an excellent clinical observer, who had paid much attention to morbid anatomy. He suffered from intense facial neuralgia or tic douloureux, and the division of several branches of the trigeminal nerve, by Sir Astley Paston Cooper [q. v.], failed to give him any relief. He was obliged, by his disease, to give up practice and to leave London, and died of apoplexy at Fredville, Kent, on 31 July 1822.

[Munk's Coll. of Phys. ii. 450; Dr. Robert Bree's Oratio Harveiana, London, 1826; Sir Henry Halford's Essays and Orations, 2nd edit. London, 1833, p. 36, where he is mentioned as Dr. P.; Works.]

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