Nottingham Hospitals History


Member of the Nottingham Book Club

and the

Nottingham Medico-Chirurgical Society


John Higginbottom (1788-1876) was born at Ashton-under-Lyne on the 14th June, 1788, his father’s character earning him the name of “the honest lawyer.” The son also had very independent views which perhaps may have prevented his election to the staff of the General Hospital, for he inveighed most vigorously against the medicinal use of alcohol and compared it with indiscriminate venesection which his brother-in-law, Marshall Hall, did much to abolish. In a letter to the Nottingham Free Press in 1860 he expostulated against the expenditure of £430 on wines, spirits and ales during the past year by the Nottingham Board of Guardians as a shameful waste of money, and said that “the old system of blood letting had destroyed hundreds of valuable lives and that the present plan of alcoholizing patients is destroying thousands.” Before this, in March 1855, he had read a paper before the Nottingham Medico-Chirurgical Society, during the Presidency of Dr. W. H. Ransom, on the treatment of fevers, uterine haemorrhage, and delirium tremens, without the use of alcohol stimulants, which naturally led to an animated discussion, for, in the light R. B. Todd’s then recent advocacy of the administration of alcohol at short intervals during the day and night in specially serious cases of fever, he was tilting against authority. Though never president of the Nottingham Medico-Chirurgical Society himself his son Marshall Hall Higginbottom held this office in 1856.

John Higginbottom practised in Nottingham from 1810. Writing in 1860 he said for the first twenty years he had given alcohol as was customary with his professional brethren, but during the last twenty-seven years that he had entirely abandoned the treatment and endured the taunt of running “a crochet and perverse conceit.” A man of high character and great energy he remained active in his profession to within a few years of his death on 7th April, 1876, aged 86.

Centenary of the Nottingham Medico-Chirugical Society