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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Sir Astley Paston Cooper

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SIR ASTLEY PASTON COOPER (1768-1841), English surgeon, was born at the village of Brooke in Norfolk on the 23rd of August 1768. His father, Dr Samuel Cooper, was a clergyman of the Church of England; his mother was the author of several novels. At the age of sixteen he was sent to London and placed under Henry Cline (1750-1827), surgeon to St Thomas's hospital. From the first he devoted himself to the study of anatomy, and had the privilege of attending the lectures of John Hunter. In 1789 he was appointed demonstrator of anatomy at St Thomas's hospital, where in 1791 he became joint lecturer with Cline in anatomy and surgery, and in 1800 he was appointed surgeon to Guy's hospital, on the death of his uncle, William Cooper. In 1802 he received the Copley medal for two papers read before the Royal Society of London on the destruction of the membrana tympani; and in 1805 he was elected a fellow of that society. In the same year he took an active part in the formation of the Medico-Chirurgical Society, and published in the first volume of its Transactions an account of an attempt to tie the common carotid artery for aneurism. In 1804 he brought out the first, and in 1807 the second, part of his great work on hernia, which added so largely to his reputation that in 1813 his annual professional income rose to 21,000 sterling. In the same year he was appointed professor of comparative anatomy to the Royal College of Surgeons and was very popular as a lecturer. In 1817 he performed his famous operation of tying the abdominal aorta for aneurism; and in 1820 he removed a wen from the head of George IV., and about six months afterwards received a baronetcy, which, as he had no son, was to descend to his nephew and adopted son, Astley Cooper. He served as president of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1827 and again in 1836, and he was elected a vice-president of the Royal Society in 1830. He died on the 12th of February 1841 in London, and was interred, by his own desire, beneath the chapel of Guy's hospital. A statue b y E. H. Baily was erected in St Paul's.

His chief works are Anatomy and Surgical Treatment of Hernia (1804-1807); Dislocations and Fractures (1822); Lectures on Surgery (1824-1827); Illustrations of Diseases of the Breast (1829); Anatomy of the Thymus Gland (1832); Anatomy of the Breast (1840).

See Life of Sir A. Cooper, by B. B. Cooper (1843).

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Sir Astley Paston Cooper'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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