Wall, John (1708-1776) (DNB00)

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WALL, JOHN (1708–1776), physician, born at Powick, Worcestershire, in 1708, was the son of John Wall, a tradesman of Worcester city. He was educated at Worcester grammar school, matriculated from Worcester College, Oxford, on 23 June 1726, graduated B.A. in 1730, and migrated to Merton College, where he was elected fellow in 1735, and whence he took the degrees of M.A. and M.B. in 1736, and of M.D. in 1759. After taking his M.B. degree he began practice as a physician in Worcester, and there continued till his death. In 1744 he wrote an essay (Philosophical Transactions, No. 474, p. 213) on the use of musk in the treatment of the hiccough, of fevers, and in some other cases of spasm. In 1747 he sent a paper to the Royal Society on 'the Use of Bark in Smallpox' (ib. No. 484, p. 583). When cinchona bark was first used its obvious and immediate effect in malarial fever led to the opinion that it had great and unknown powers, and must be used with extreme caution, and this essay is one of a long series extending from the time of Thomas Sydenham [q. v.] to the first half of the present century, when it was finally determined that the evils anticipated were imaginary, and that bark in moderate doses might be given whenever a general tonic was needed, and to children as well as to adults. He published in the 'Gentleman's Magazine' for December 1751 an essay on the cure of putrid sore throat, in which, like John Fothergill [q. v.], he records and does not distinguish cases of scarlet fever and of diphtheria. He was the first medical writer to point out the resemblance of the condition in man to epidemic foot-and-mouth disease in cattle, a suggestion of great importance. In 1756 he published in Worcester a pamphlet of fourteen pages, 'Experiments and Observations on the Malvern Waters.' This reached a third edition in 1763, and was then enlarged to 158 pages. Like all works of the kind, it describes numerous cures obviously due to other causes than the waters. He recommended olive oil for the treatment of round worms in children, in 'Observations on the Case of the Norfolk Boy' in 1758, and agreed with Sir George Baker (1722-1809) [q. v.] in a letter as to the effect of lead in cider (London Med. Trans, i. 202). In 1775 he published a letter to William Heberden (1710-1801) [q. v.] on angina pectoris, which contains one of the earliest English reports of a post-mortem examination on a case of that disease. He had noticed calcification of the aortic valves and of the aorta itself. He died at Bath on 27 June 1776. He married Catherine, youngest daughter of Martin Sandys, a barrister, uncle of Samuel Sandys, first baron Sandys [q. v.] His son, Martin Wall [q. v.], collected his works into a volume entitled ' Medical Tracts,' which was published at Oxford in 1780. The preface mentions that ' an unremitting attachment to the art of painting engaged almost every moment of his leisure hours from his infancy to his death.' His portrait hangs in the board-room of the Worcester Infirmary. His picture of the head of Pompey brought to Caesar is at Hagley, Worcestershire, and there is another in the hall of Merton College, Oxford.

[Nash's History of Worcestershire, ii. 126; Chambers's Biographical Illustr. of Worcestershire, 1820; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; information from Dr. M. Read of Worcester.]

N. M.