|Born||27 October 1797
|Died||9 August 1847
After attending the Royal High School, Combe served an apprenticeship in a surgery, and in 1817 passed at Surgeon's Hall. He went to Paris to complete his medical studies, and whilst there he investigated phrenology on anatomical principles. Combe developed remarkable skills in the public dissection of the brain and subsequently added interest to his brother's lectures by his practical demonstrations of the cerebral convolutions. He returned to Edinburgh in 1819 but, showing the first symptoms of tuberculosis, he travelled to the south of France and to Italy during the two following winters. He began to practise in 1823 and continued for about nine years. During this period he assisted in editing the Phrenological Journal and contributed a number of articles to it, defended phrenology before the Royal Medical Society of Edinburgh in 1823, published his Observations on Mental Derangement (1831), and prepared the greater portion of his Principles of Physiology Applied to Health and Education, which was published in 1834 and widely circulated.
In 1834, Combe applied for the post of superintendent of the Montrose asylum - the first publicly funded post in mental hospital practice in Scotland - but, on receiving a request for a reference from William A. F. Browne - Combe withdrew his application and warmly endorsed his former student. Browne was successful in his application, and was celebrated at Montrose as an outstanding superintendent. However, in his hugely influential lectures on asylum management, delivered in the Autumn of 1836, Browne did not mention phrenological thinking, and Combe had to await a delayed expression of gratitude in the dedication of Browne's lectures - What Asylums Were, Are, and Ought to Be - which were published to international acclaim in 1837.
In 1836 Combe was appointed physician to King Léopold I of Belgium, and moved to Brussels, but he found the climate unsuitable and returned to Edinburgh, where he resumed his practice. In 1836 he published his Physiology of Digestion, and in 1838 he was appointed as a physician to Queen Victoria. Two years later he completed his last work Physiological and Moral Management of Infancy, which he believed to be his best. His later years were mostly spent at various health resorts; he spent two winters in Madeira, and tried a voyage to the United States, but had to return within a few weeks. He died at Gorgie, near Edinburgh, on 9 August 1847.
His biography, written by his brother, was published in 1850.
See also