St Clair Thomson

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St Clair Thomson

Sir St Clair Thomson (28 July 1859 – 29 January 1943) was a British surgeon and professor of laryngology.[1]

Thomson was born at Fahan, Derry, Ireland and studied at King's School, Peterborough from the age of ten, later gaining medical experience in general practice while apprenticed to his eldest brother. Thomson's medical studies, started privately, continued from 1877 at King's College London where he gained the qualifications MRCS (Member of the Royal College of Surgeons) in 1881 and MB (Bachelor of Medicine) in 1883. He then became house surgeon to Joseph Lister at King's College Hospital.[1]

Thomson went on to work at Queen Charlotte's Hospital and as a surgeon on ships operated by Union-Castle Line on routes to South Africa. This was followed by several years as a physician in Europe, practising medicine in Florence and St Moritz. In the early 1890s he developed his professional interests beyond general practice and turned towards the study of laryngology. Famous laryngologists he visited in Vienna included Leopold von Schrötter and Karl Stoerk, along with the Austrian otologist Ádám Politzer. He also studied with German laryngologist Gustav Killian at Freiburg.[1]

Thomson established himself as a consultant laryngologist following his return to London in 1893. After obtaining the further qualification FRCS (Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons), he lectured in medicine, carried out research, and helped edit the journal The Laryngoscope. His career in medicine and his chosen speciality advanced from surgeon (at the Royal Ear Hospital) and physician (at the Throat Hospital in Golden Square) to FRCP (1903) and "physician in charge" at King's College Hospital in 1905, culminating in the post of professor of laryngology at King's in 1908. Another peak of his career was his appointment as throat physician to King Edward VII. Thomson was knighted in 1912.[1] After his retirement from medical practice at King's in 1924, he held positions at the Royal College of Physicians as examiner and member of the council. He lectured on tuberculosis of the larynx, and received the 1936 Weber Parkes Medal for his tuberculosis research. Thomson also lectured and wrote on the subject of Shakespeare and medicine.[1]

Major publications that Thomson authored or co-authored included Diseases of the Nose and Throat (1911) and Cancer of the Larynx (1930). Professional societies in which he held positions included the Medical Society of London (President in 1915-16) and the British Medical Association. He was also president of the Royal Society of Medicine from 1925 to 1927.

Thomson had married in 1901, but his wife Isabella died less than five years later in 1905. Thomson never remarried. His home in Wimpole Street in London, kept by his elder sister Matilda, housed his collection of Shakespearian prints, miniatures and pharmacy jars.[1] Photographic portraits of Thomson, taken in 1938 by British photographer Howard Coster, are held at the National Portrait Gallery.[2] Having settled in Scotland following wartime damage to his London home, Thomson was killed in a street accident in Edinburgh on 29 January 1943 at the age of 83.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Weir, Neil (2011) [2004]. "Thomson, Sir St Clair (1859–1943)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/57670.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ "Sir St Clair Thomson (1853–1943), Surgeon and Professor of Laryngology". National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved 24 December 2013. 

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