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Identity statement

Reference code(s)
GB0100 TH/PP11
BRISTOWE, John Syer (1827-1895)
Level of description
Collection (fonds)
Extent and medium of the unit of description (quantity, bulk, or size)
2 files, 3 volumes


Name of creator(s)

Bristowe, John Syer, 1827-1895, Physician

Administrative / Biographical history

Born at Camberwell on 19 Jan 1827, the son of John Syer Bristowe, a medical practitioner in Camberwell, and Mary Chesshyre his wife. He was educated at Enfield and King's College schools, and entered at St. Thomas's Hospital as a medical student in 1846. A distinguished student, he took the Treasurer's gold medal, in 1848, and in the same year he obtained the gold medal of the Apothecaries' Society for botany. In 1849 he was admitted a member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, and on 2 Aug. 1849 he received the licence of the Society of Apothecaries. In 1850 he took the degree of M.B. of the University of London, gaining the scholarship and medal in surgery and the medals in anatomy and materia medica; in 1852 he was admitted M.D. of the London University. In 1849 he was house surgeon at St. Thomas's Hospital, and in the following year he was appointed curator of the museum and pathologist to the hospital. He was elected assistant physician in 1854, and during the next few years he held several teaching posts, being appointed lecturer on botany in 1859, on materia medica in 1860, on general anatomy and physiology in 1865, on pathology in 1870. In 1860 he was elected full physician, and in 1876 he became lecturer on medicine, a post which he held until his retirement in 1892, when he became consulting physician to the hospital. He served many important offices at the Royal College of Physicians. Elected a fellow in 1858, he was an examiner in medicine in 1869 and 1870. In 1872 he was Croonian lecturer, choosing for his subject 'Disease and its Medical Treatment;' in 1879 he was Lumleian lecturer on 'The Pathological Relations of Voice and Speech.' He was censor in 1876, 1886, 1887, 1888, and senior censor in 1889. He was examiner in medicine at the universities of Oxford and London, at the Royal College of Surgeons, and at the war office. He was also medical officer of health for Camberwell (1856-95), physician to the Commercial Union Assurance Company, and to Westminster School. In 1881 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society, and the honorary degree of LL.D. was conferred upon him at the tercentenary of the Edinburgh University in 1884. He was president of the Pathological Society of London in 1885, of the Neurological Society in 1891, and of the Medical Society of London in 1893. In this year he delivered the Lettsomian lectures on 'Syphilitic Affections of the Nervous System.' He was also president of the Society of Medical Officers of Health, of the Hospitals Association, and of the metropolitan counties' branch of the British Medical Association. In 1887 his term of office as physician to St. Thomas's Hospital having expired, he was appointed for a further term of five years at the unanimous request of his colleagues. Bristowe married, on 9 Oct. 1856, Miriam Isabelle Stearns of Dulwich. He died on 20 Aug. 1895 at Monmouth. A three-quarter-length portrait by his daughter, Miss Beatrice M. Bristowe, hangs in the committee-room at St. Thomas's Hospital. He presented to the Public Health Department of the Privy Council a series of important reports 'On Phosphorus Poisoning in Match Manufacture' (1862), 'On Infection by Rags and Paper Works' (1865), 'On the Cattle Plague' (1866) in conjunction with Professor (Sir) J. Burdon Sanderson, and 'On the Hospitals of the United Kingdom' jointly with Mr. Timothy Holmes. He had considerable skill as a draughtsman, and many of the microscopical drawings to be found in his books were the work of his own hand. In particular his figures of trichina spiralis, a parasitic worm in the muscles of man, have been copied into many textbooks. Publications: Poems , London, 1850; A Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Medicine , London, 1876; Clinical Lectures and Essays on Diseases of the Nervous System , 1888; Annual Reports of the Medical Officer of Health to the Vestry of St. Giles, Camberwell, Surrey , L

Archival history

Presented to St Thomas's Hospital Medical School Library by a daughter of J S Bristowe.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Transferred from St Thomas' Hospital Medical School Library in 2002

Content & structure

Scope and content

Collection of watercolour paintings and sketches by John Bristowe and his family including two volumes of watercolours by John S Bristowe, 1886-1895, including images of St Mary's Abbey, York; Studland Bay; Corfe Castle; Matterhorn; Vienna; Craig-y-care; Harlow Mill River Stort; North Wales; (some with loose pages and incomplete); sketch book containing pencil sketches, 1889-1897, including images of Welsh landscapes, Lake Geneva, Bradfield, and Norway; and loose paintings of Bradfield College, Staverton Bridge, Amalfi 1895, Capri, [Loen Nourn] Norway, and various other images; also contains nine watercolour paintings attributed to the daughter of John Bristowe.

System of arrangement

The records are arranged as outlined in the scope and content.

Conditions of access & use

Conditions governing access

Open, subject to signature of Reader's undertaking form, and appropriate provision of two forms of identification, to include one photographic ID.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Director of Archives and Corporate Records Services.

Language/scripts of material


Finding aids

This collection level description.

Allied materials

Existence and location of originals

King's College London College Archives

Description control

Archivist's Note

Sources: National Dictionary of Biography, CD-ROM (A & C Black) 1995; British Library Public On-line Catalogue. Compiled by Alison Field.

Rules or conventions

Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

This catalogue is made available under the Open Data Commons Attribution License. This catalogue may be updated from time to time in order to reflect additional material and/or new understandings of the material.

Date(s) of descriptions

January 2004

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  • Fine arts
  • Painting
  • Watercolour painting

Personal names

  • Bristowe, John Syer, 1827-1895, Physician

Corporate names

  • King's College London College Archives


  • Capri, Italy
  • Corfe Castle, Dorset, England
  • Harlow Mill, Essex, England
  • London, England
  • Norway, Northern Europe
  • Studland Bay, Dorset, England
  • Switzerland
  • Vienna, Austria
  • Wales
  • York, Ainsty and City of York, Yorkshire, England

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