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Thomas Beddoes

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Thomas Beddoes (1760-1808), English physician and scientific writer

1760 April 13th. Born at Shiffnall in Shropshire.

Educated at Bridgnorth grammar school, and tutored (1773) by the Revd Samuel Dickenson at Plymhill, Staffordshire.

From 1776 at Pembroke College, Oxford. He attended chemical demonstrations at the Ashmolean Museum, as well as teaching himself French, Italian, and German.

1779 Graduated and moved to London to work under John Sheldon at the Great Windmill Street school of anatomy. Also attended the chemical laboratory of Bryan Higgins in Greek Street.

1784 he translated the work of the Italian naturalist and physiologist Lazzaro Spallanzani and then moved to Edinburgh to study medicine.

1786 returned to Oxford, with plans to advance his knowledge of chemistry.

1787 Visited France, including a meeting with Antoine Lavoisier in Paris.

1788 Appointed reader in chemistry at Oxford. During this period he encouraged James Sadler in his work on steam engines.

1793 Moved to Bristol, where he set himself up as a physician.

Mid-1790s Collaborated with James Watt, who designed apparatus for Beddoes's experiments on human physiology and human health.

He was a reforming practioner and teacher of medicine, and an associate of leading scientific figures. Beddoes tried to provide medical care using gases and their curative powers - referred to as chemical or "pneumatic" medicine.

He was a friend of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and, according to E. S. Shaffer an important influence on Coleridge's early thinking, introducing him to the higher criticism.

1794 Beddoes married Anna (1773–1824), a daughter of Richard Lovell Edgeworth (a member of the Lunar Society with which Beddoes was also associated). The poet Thomas Lovell Beddoes was their son.

1798 Humphry Davy became Beddoes's assistant in Bristol

1799 Establish a venue for the use of gases in the treatment of illness, the Pneumatic Institute, in Dowry Square in Hotwells, Bristol.

1801 Davy moved to London

By 1802 the Pneumatic Institute had changed its name and its aims to the Preventive Medical Institution for the Sick and Drooping Poor. The aim was early treatment, especially in tubercular cases.

1808 Beddoes died at his home in Clifton, Bristol, on 23 December. Many of his papers were destroyed after his death.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • [1] Wikipedia
  • Biography of Thomas Beddoes, ODNB