Deventer, Henry

, a celebrated man-midwife, was born at Deventer, in the province of Over-Yssel, in Holland, towards the end of the seventeenth century. Though skilled in every branch of medicine, and honoured with the dignity of doctor in that faculty, he was principally employed in surgery, and in the latter part of his life he almost entirely confined himself to the practice of midwifery, in which art he made considerable improvements. He acquired also no small share of fame by his various mechanical inventions for assisting in preventing and curing deformities of the body in young subjects. In that capacity he was repeatedly sent for to Denmark, whence he drew a considerable revenue. His knowledge of mechanics did not, however, prevent his observing that much mischief was done by the too frequent use of instruments in midwifery; and he introduced such improvements in the art, as gave him a decided preference over Mauriceau, his almost immediate precursor. Satisfied with the principles on which his practice was founded, he published in 1701, “Operationes Chirurgicse novum lumen exhibentes obstetricantibus,Leyden, 4to, which had been published in 1696, in his native language. This was followed by a second part, in 1724, 4to, “Ulterius examen partuum difficilium, Lapis Lydius obstetricum, et de necessaria cadaverum incisione.” The two parts were published together, much improved, in 1733, but the work had already been translated and published in most of the countries in Europe. How long the author continued to live after the publication of this improved edition is not known.

He had often, he says, been required to let the world know, by advertisement, what kind of defects in the form of the body he was able to cure or relieve, but had not | thought it expedient to do so; these he has enumerated and described at the end of the work. They are twentytwo in number; among them are the following when the head, from a contraction of the tendons, fell on one of the shoulders, he enabled the party to hold his head erect. On the other hand, when a child came into the world clubfooted, so that it could only touch the ground with its ancles, he completely, he says, cured the defect, and he was so sure of his principles, that he required no part of his stipulated pay until the cure was effected. Some time after his death, viz. in 1739, a posthumous work was published on the rickets, in his native language. Haller speaks favourably of it, and has given a brief analysis of its contents, by which it appears to contain some useful practical observations. 1


Dict. Hist. Rees’s Cyclopedia. —Haller Bibl. Chir.