Bromfield, Sir William

, an eminent English surgeon, was born in London, in 1712, and studied surgery under the celebrated Ranby, by whose instructions he was soon enabled to practise on his own account. In 1741, he began to give lectures on anatomy and surgery, and soon found his theatre crowded with pupils. Some years after, in conjunction with the rev. Mr. Madan, he formed the plan of the Lock hospital, into which patients were first received Jan. 3, 1747, and was made first surgeon to that establishment, an office he filled with advantage to the patients and credit to himself for many years. With a view of contributing to its success, he altered an old comedy, “The City Match,” written in 1639, by Jaspar Maine, and procured it to be acted at Drury-lane theatre, in 1755, for the benefit of the hospital. He was also, very early after its being instituted, elected one of the surgeons to St. George’s hospital. In 1761, he was appointed in the suite of the noble persons, who were sent to bring over the princess of Mecklenburgh, our present queen, and was soon after appointed surgeon to her majesty’s household. In 1751, he sent to the royal society a case of a woman who had a foetus in her abdomen nine years, which is printed in their Transactions for the same year. In 1757, he published an account of the English night shades, the internal use of which had been recommended in scrophulous cases; but they had failed in producing the expected benefit with him. In 1759, he gave “A Narrative of a Physical Transaction with Mr. Aylet, surgeon, at Windsor.” This is a controversial piece of no consequence now, but the author clears himself from the imputation of having treated his antagonist improperly. Ira 1767, he published “Thoughts concerning the present peculiar method of treating persons ^inoculated for the Small-pox.” This relates to the Suttons, who were now in the zenith of their reputation. He thinks their practice of exposing their patients to the open air in the midst of winter, of repelling the eruption, and checking or preventing the suppurative process, too bold, and hazardous, | On the whole, however, he acknowledges, they were deserving of commendation, for the improvements they had introduced, in the treatment, both of the inoculated and natural small-pox. His next work, the most considerable one written by him, was “Chirurgical Cases and Observations,” published in 1773, in 2 vols. 8vo. Though there are much judicious practice, and many valuable observations contained in these volumes, yet they did not answer the expectations of the public, or correspond to the fame and credit the author had obtained: accordingly in the following year they were attacked by an anonymous writer, said to be Mr. Justamond, in a pamphlet, entitled “Notes on Chirurgical Cases and Observations, by a Professor of Surgery.” The strictures contained in these notes are keen and ingenious, and, though evidently the produce of ill-humour, yet seem to have had the effect of preventing so general a diffusion of the cases, as the character of the author would otherwise have procured them. They have never been reprinted. About this time the author took a spacious mansion in Chelsea park, which he enlarged, altered, and furnished in an elegant style. Hither he retired, after doing his business, which he began gradually to contract into a narrower circle. With that view, a few years after, he gave up his situation as surgeon to the Lock hospital. His other appointments he kept to the time of his death, which happened on the 24th of November, 1792, in the 80th year of his age. 1


Rees’s Cyclopædia.