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 John Hughlings Jackson

John Hughlings Jackson

Birth
Green Hammerton, Harrogate Borough, North Yorkshire, England
Death 7 Oct 1911 (aged 76)
London, City of London, Greater London, England
Burial Highgate, London Borough of Camden, Greater London, England
Memorial ID 6592 · View Source
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Neurologist, Educator. He gained wide acclaim for his indepth studies of epilepsy, speech defect and other nervous-system disorder arising from a brain or spinal cord injury, which has defined modern neurology. Jackson was among the towering figures in 19th Century medicine. He practiced medicine at the National Hospital for the Paralyzed and Epileptic from 1862 to 1902 and London Hospital from 1859 to 1894. In 1864 he confirmed the discovery by Dr. Paul Broca, a French surgeon, that the brain's speech center in a right-handed person is located in the left cerebral hemisphere of the brain. A left-sided brain injury can caused aphasia, the inability to speak. From his studies, he was able to describe the Jacksonian seizure in 1863 and in 1875 located the areas of the brain that caused them. In this type of seizure, the patient does not become unconscious, yet he has uncontrollable movements of the face and limbs that rotate around the body or do the “Jacksonian March”. Other physicians admired Jackson during his lifetime, but his personality and the nature of his work made him invisible to larger scientific and the culture world. It was not until the 20th century that the scientific community realized what this man had accomplished years earlier. Born the youngest of five children, his mother, Sarah Hughlings, died when he was one year old. His father, Samuel Jackson, was a brewmaster and farmer. He attended local schools with a short stint in a boarding school. Ending his formal education on October 20, 1850, he traveled to York to become an apprentice of two physicians, Charles Anderson and his son Tempest Anderson. After two years, he enrolled in free classes at York Medical School, where Dr Charles Anderson was a lecturer. Besides listening to the free lectures, he was a focused student and self-taught by reading Anderson's medical books. On April 1856, he passed the oral exam that was required by the Apothecaries Act of 1815. Since he was not university-trained, he had to pay a higher fee to take this and other exams throughout his lifetime. In order to qualify for the Royal College of Surgeons, he had to go to London to practice in St Bartholomew's Hospital, a larger accredited hospital than the one at York. He was accepted to the Royal College of Surgeons in 1856. His close family unit dissolved with his three brothers migrating to New Zealand; his father becoming penniless, having declining health issues and dying in 1858; and his only sister dying in 1859. He joined the York Medical Society with a lecture on neurology. By the fall of 1859, he had moved to London to become a staff physician at several hospitals, and once again, he was giving lectures on neurology. In London, he met other physicians with similar interests and they were supportive of his research. Starting in 1860, he and Sir Jonathan Hutchinson wrote weekly articles in the newspaper, “Medical Times and Gazette”, gaining notoriety about London's medical community. In 1861 he passed the examination to be a member of the Royal College of Physicians; on May 7, 1862 he was appointed to Assistant Physician at the Hospital of Paralyzed and Epileptic, and on August 25, 1863 was appointed an Assistant Physician to the London Hospital. By 1874, he became a physician at that hospital and continued to give lectures while confirming and expanding Broca's finds on the brain. On July 25, 1865, he married his first cousin, Elizabeth Dade Jackson. In 1868 at the age of thirty-three, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, a great achievement for a young physician with no actual university education. The next year he was giving lectures at the RCP on neurology and his research on the human brain with abstracts of these lectures being published in the “Lancet” and the “British Medical Journal” by the spring of 1869. The 1870s were busy years with more research on the brain, lecturing and publishing more articles. On May 25, 1876, his beloved wife had a massive cerebral thrombus with a seizure and died. At this point, he poured himself into his work as he never had ever developed an interest in anything else. All his friends were fellow physicians especially Hutchinson being his closest. In 1878, at the age of 43, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and in the same year, he and a couple more neurologists were the founding editors of the medical journal, “Brain,” which is still being published. In 1885, he was elected the first President of the Neurological Society of London. He retired from the London Hospital in 1894 and from the National Hospital in 1902. Becoming deaf in his old age, he became a recluse rarely leaving his home, where he died of pneumonia. Recently in October of 2011, three articles were published in the “Brain” related to Jackson: “Process and Progress: John Hughlings Jackson's Philosophy of Science” by L. Stephens; “Hughlings Jackson's Neurological Ideas” by George York & David Steinberg; and “John Hughlings Jackson's Evolutionary Neurology: A unifying Framework for Cognitive Neuroscience” by Elizabeth Franz & Grant Gillett, Volume 134 Issue 10.

Bio by: Linda Davis


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 8 Oct 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 6592
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for John Hughlings Jackson (4 Apr 1835–7 Oct 1911), Find A Grave Memorial no. 6592, citing Highgate Cemetery (West), Highgate, London Borough of Camden, Greater London, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .