Thomas Spencer Wells

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Thomas Spencer Wells Thomas Spencer Wells 2.jpg
Thomas Spencer Wells
Thomas Spencer Wells Thomas Spencer Wells 3.jpg
Thomas Spencer Wells

Sir Thomas Spencer Wells, 1st Baronet (3 February 1818 – 31 January 1897) was surgeon to Queen Victoria, a medical professor and president of the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

Royal College of Surgeons of England professional body in England, United Kingdom

The Royal College of Surgeons of England, is an independent professional body and registered charity promoting and advancing standards of surgical care for patients, regulating surgery, including dentistry, in England and Wales. The College is located at Lincoln's Inn Fields in London. It publishes multiple medical journals including the Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, the Faculty Dental Journal, and the Bulletin of the Royal College of Surgeons of England.


Early life

He was born at St Albans, Hertfordshire and received his early education at St Albans School (then located in the Lady Chapel of the Abbey).

St Albans City in southern Hertfordshire, England

St Albans is a city in Hertfordshire, England, and the major urban area in the City and District of St Albans. It lies east of Hemel Hempstead and west of Hatfield, about 20 miles (32 km) north-northwest of central London, 8 miles (13 km) southwest of Welwyn Garden City and 11 miles (18 km) south-southeast of Luton. St Albans was the first major town on the old Roman road of Watling Street for travellers heading north, and it became the Roman city of Verulamium. It is a historic market town and is now a dormitory town within the London commuter belt and the Greater London Built-up Area.

Hertfordshire County of England

Hertfordshire is one of the home counties in England. It is bordered by Bedfordshire to the north, Cambridgeshire to the north-east, Essex to the east, Buckinghamshire to the west and Greater London to the south. For government statistical purposes, it is placed in the East of England region.


After a short time as a pupil of a surgeon in Barnsley (Yorkshire), he studied medicine at Leeds, Trinity College Dublin, St Thomas' Hospital (becoming a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS) in 1841 and a Fellow (FRCS) in 1844), and later in Paris, France.

Surgery medical specialty

Surgery is a medical specialty that uses operative manual and instrumental techniques on a patient to investigate or treat a pathological condition such as a disease or injury, to help improve bodily function or appearance or to repair unwanted ruptured areas.

Barnsley town in South Yorkshire, England

Barnsley is a town in South Yorkshire, England, located halfway between Leeds and Sheffield. Historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire, the town centre lies on the west bank of the Dearne Valley. Barnsley is surrounded by several smaller settlements which together form the Metropolitan Borough of Barnsley, of which Barnsley is the largest and its administrative centre. At the 2011 Census, Barnsley had a population of 91,297.

Yorkshire historic county of Northern England

Yorkshire, formally known as the County of York, is a historic county of Northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Due to its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform. Throughout these changes, Yorkshire has continued to be recognised as a geographical territory and cultural region. The name is familiar and well understood across the United Kingdom and is in common use in the media and the military, and also features in the titles of current areas of civil administration such as North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and East Riding of Yorkshire.

He served as a naval surgeon in Malta, and then established his own practice in London in 1853. In 1854, and from 1856 to 78, he was surgeon of the Samaritan Free Hospital for Women, London (serving in between as an army surgeon in the Crimean War). He also lectured at the Grosvenor School of Medicine (which later became the medical school of St George's Hospital). In 1877 was appointed Hunterian Professor of Surgery and Pathology at the Royal College of Surgeons of England (of which he was elected President in 1883 — in the same year he was created baronet). [1] From 1863 to 1896 he was surgeon to Queen Victoria's household.

A naval surgeon, or less commonly ship's doctor, is the person responsible for the health of the people aboard a naval ship at sea. The term appears often in reference to Royal Navy's medical personnel during the Age of Sail.

Malta island republic in Europe

Malta, officially known as the Republic of Malta, is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies 80 km (50 mi) south of Italy, 284 km (176 mi) east of Tunisia, and 333 km (207 mi) north of Libya. With a population of about 475,000 over an area of 316 km2 (122 sq mi), Malta is the world's tenth smallest and fifth most densely-populated country. Its capital is Valletta, which is the smallest national capital in the European Union by area at 0.8 km.2 The official languages are Maltese and English, with Maltese officially recognised as the national language and the only Semitic language in the European Union.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Wells specialized in obstetrics and ophthalmic surgery. He is recognized as a pioneer in abdominal surgery and is notable for having perfected ovariotomy. In 1879, he invented an improved pattern of artery forceps, which prevented entanglement of surrounding structures by the handles of the implement when in use. [2] He was also one of the earliest surgeons to make use of anaesthetics in operations. He published a number of important medical books and articles.

Obstetrics is the field of study concentrated on pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. As a medical specialty, obstetrics is combined with gynecology under the discipline known as obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) which is a surgical field.

Ophthalmology field of medicine treating eye disorders

Ophthalmology is a branch of medicine and surgery that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders. An ophthalmologist is a specialist in ophthalmology. Their credentials include a degree in medicine, followed by an additional four years of ophthalmology residency training. They may or may not receive residency training in internal medicine, pediatrics, or general surgery before the ophthalmology residency. Additional training may be sought through a fellowship in a particular specialty of eye pathology. Ophthalmologists are allowed to use medications to treat eye diseases, implement laser therapy, and perform surgery when needed. Ophthalmologists may participate in academic research on the diagnosis and treatment for eye disorders.

Oophorectomy is the surgical removal of an ovary or ovaries. The surgery is also called ovariectomy, but this term is mostly used in reference to animals, e.g. the surgical removal of ovaries from laboratory animals. Removal of the ovaries of females is the biological equivalent of castration of males; the term castration is only occasionally used in the medical literature to refer to oophorectomy of women. In veterinary medicine, the removal of ovaries and uterus is called ovariohysterectomy (spaying) and is a form of sterilization.

Thomas Spencer Wells was elected member of Leopoldina in 1886.

The Academy of Sciences Leopoldina is the national academy of Germany.

Later life

He died after an attack of apoplexy on 31 January 1897 and is buried in Brompton Cemetery.

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  1. "No. 25229". The London Gazette . 11 May 1888. p. 2495.
  2. "Spencer Wells-type artery forceps". Brought to Life: Exploring the History of Medicine. The Science Museum. Retrieved 13 October 2016.