Thomas Trotter (1760 – 1832) was a Scottish naval physician and author who was a leading medical reformer in the Royal Navy and an ardent critic of the slave trade.Trotter was born in Melrose, Roxburghshire, and studied medicine under Alexander Monro (secundus) in Edinburgh. His major work, the Medicina Nautica, was published in 1802 and provides a detailed examination of the state of naval medicine during the French Revolutionary Wars.
Trotter was a champion of vaccinations for naval medical staff, and as the Navy's Physician of the Fleet he required that all naval surgeons and assistants be inoculated against smallpox. Influenced by his career in the Royal Navy, Trotter was also a key figure in the development of modern theories of alcohol addiction, describing habitual alcohol consumption as a 'disease of the mind'.After an extensive naval career, Trotter retired to private practice in 1802 and died in 1832.
Trotter was born in Roxburghshire in 1760. He enlisted in the Royal Navy at the age of nineteen and, despite a lack of medical training, was assigned the rank of surgeon's mate aboard the 74-gun ship of the line HMS Berwick. Britain was then at war against the Dutch, French and Spanish, and Trotter saw active service during the Battle of Dogger Bank in 1781, and in the lifting of the Great Siege of Gibraltar in 1782. He was discharged from the Navy in 1783, at the conclusion of the wars.
Unemployed and without family or political connections, Trotter elected to sign on as surgeon aboard a Guineaman, or slaving ship, engaged in the transportation of slaves from Africa to the Caribbean. He later considered this to be the lowest point of his life, and his exposure to the misery of the slaves converted him to the anti-slavery cause. An outbreak of scurvy on board also fixed his attention on the disease.
Trotter pursued medical studies in Edinburgh, and graduated M.D. in 1788. During the Spanish armament of 1790, he was appointed by Vice-admiral Robert Roddam, to be surgeon of his flagship HMS Royal William, and in 1793 was surgeon of HMS Vengeance for a voyage to the West Indies and back. In December he was appointed second physician to the Royal Hospital at Haslar, near Portsmouth, and in April 1794 was nominated by Lord Howe physician to the Channel fleet. In this capacity he served through the campaigns of 1794 and 1795, was present in the battle of 1 June 1794, appears to have been with Cornwallis on 16–17 June 1795, and to have joined the fleet under Lord Bridport very shortly after the action of 23 June. When going on board one of the ships to visit a wounded officer, he was accidentally ruptured, and rendered incapable of further service at sea.
Trotter was granted a pension; he settled in private practice at Newcastle, which he gave up, but continued to write, mostly on professional subjects. He died at Newcastle on 5 September 1832. He was twice married.
At the age of 16 Trotter wrote verses which were published in Walter Ruddiman's Edinburgh Magazine in 1777 and 1778. His M.D. dissertation was De Ebrietate ejusque effectibus in corpus humanum, published in English as An Essay, medical, philosophical, and chemical, on Drunkenness, and its Effects on the Human Body (1804; 4th edit. 1812). In England, while in private medical practice at Wooler in Northumberland, he wrote up his notes on scurvy to order, and published them as Observations on the Scurvy (1786; 2nd edit., much enlarged, 1792). Treatment for scurvy had been demonstrated by James Lind in his Treatise of 1754; Trotter corroborated Lind's thesis by extensive observations. In 1795, through Sir Gilbert Blane, the Admiralty endorsed the general use of lemon juice.
Other works were:
Trotter contributed also to the European Magazine , Medical Journal and other periodicals.
James Lind was a Scottish doctor. He was a pioneer of naval hygiene in the Royal Navy. By conducting one of the first ever clinical trials, he developed the theory that citrus fruits cured scurvy.
Scurvy is a disease resulting from a lack of vitamin C. Early symptoms of deficiency include weakness, feeling tired and sore arms and legs. Without treatment, decreased red blood cells, gum disease, changes to hair, and bleeding from the skin may occur. As scurvy worsens there can be poor wound healing, personality changes, and finally death from infection or bleeding.
Grog is a term used for a variety of alcoholic beverages. The word originally referred to rum diluted with water, which British Vice-Admiral Edward Vernon introduced into the naval squadron he commanded in the West Indies on 21 August 1740. Vernon wore a coat of grogram cloth and was nicknamed Old Grogram or Old Grog. The Merriam–Webster Collegiate Dictionary, which agrees with this story of the word's origin, states that the word grog was first used in this sense in 1770, though other sources cite 1749. In modern times, the term grog has had a variety of meanings in a number of different cultures, but is most commonly used in Australia and New Zealand where it is a slang word for alcohol.
Sir Gilbert Blane of Blanefield, 1st Baronet FRSE FRS MRCP was a Scottish physician who instituted health reform in the Royal Navy. He saw action against both the French and Spanish fleets, and later served as a Commissioner on the Sick and Wounded Board of the Admiralty.
Admiral Edward Vernon was an English naval officer. He had a long and distinguished career, rising to the rank of admiral after 46 years service. As a vice admiral during the War of Jenkins' Ear, in 1739 he was responsible for the capture of Porto Bello, seen as expunging the failure of Admiral Hosier there in a previous conflict. However, his amphibious operation against the Spanish port of Cartagena de Indias was a disastrous defeat. Vernon also served as a Member of Parliament (MP) on three occasions and was outspoken on naval matters in Parliament, making him a controversial figure.
Sir Thomas Barlow, 1st Baronet, was a British royal physician, known for his research on infantile scurvy.
Thomas Beddoes was an English physician and scientific writer. He was born in Shifnal, Shropshire and died in Bristol fifteen years after opening his medical practice there. He was a reforming practitioner and teacher of medicine, and an associate of leading scientific figures. He worked to treat tuberculosis.
John Coakley Lettsom was an English physician and philanthropist born on Little Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands into an early Quaker settlement. The son of a West Indian planter and an Irish mother, he grew up to be an abolitionist. He founded the Medical Society of London in 1773, convinced that a combined membership of physicians, surgeons and apothecaries would prove productive. As the oldest such in the United Kingdom, it is housed in London's medical community at Lettsome House, Chandos Street, near Cavendish Square. Lettsom was its mainstay, as founder, president and benefactor.
The Sick and Hurt Commissioners were responsible for medical services in the Royal Navy. They were a separate body to the Navy Board, supplying surgeons to naval ships, providing them with medicines and equipment, and running shore and ship hospitals; they were also responsible for prisoners of war.
Dr William Wright (1735–1819) was a Scottish physician, botanist and slave owner. In 1783 he was a joint founder of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
Thomas Percival was an English physician, health reformer, ethicist and author who wrote an early code of medical ethics. He drew up a pamphlet with the code in 1794 and wrote an expanded version in 1803, Medical Ethics; or, a Code of Institutes and Precepts, Adapted to the Professional Conduct of Physicians and Surgeons in which he coined the expression "medical ethics". He was a founding subscriber of the Portico Library in Manchester and a pioneering campaigner for public health measures and factory regulation in the city.
HMS Salisbury was a 50-gun fourth rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy. She was built during the War of the Austrian Succession and went on to see action in the Seven Years' War, serving in the East Indies.
Henry Dewar of Lassodie MD FRSE (1771–1823), originally Henry Frazer or Fraser, was a Scottish minister turned physician, known as a writer.
Robert Robertson (1742–1829) was a British surgeon and a Fellow of the Royal Society.
Robert Barnes was an English obstetric physician, known as a gynaecologist, teacher, author and medical politician.
George Budd M.D. was an English physician, medical writer and academic.
Alessandro Riberi was a surgeon, physician, academic and Italian politician. He was considered to be the most distinguished Italian physician of his time. He founded the Italian army medical corps.
David Macbride (1726–1778) was an Irish medical writer. He is now remembered mainly for his work on the treatment of scurvy.
Charles Bisset was a Scottish physician and military engineer.
James Rymer, was a Scottish naval surgeon and medical writer.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : "Trotter, Thomas". Dictionary of National Biography . London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.