Birmingham Daily Post and Journal, May 25, 1883
THE LATE MR. J.F. WEST.
We regret to announce the death of Mr. James Fitzjames West, senior surgeon of the Queen's Hospital
, Birmingham. Mr. West died early yesterday morning, at his residence
in the Hagley Road, Edgbaston, after an illness of some duration, though until within a recent period a fatal termination was not anticipated. Some time ago Mr. West was out of health, and hoped by a visit to Italy
to recruit his condition. The hope was, however, disappointed; and on his return an attack of rheumatic fever set in, attended towards the close by some of the complications which render that disease so formidable. When the danger became serious, his medical attendants – Dr. Sawyer
, Dr. Suffield
, and Mr. Mann – called in Sir William Jenner
; but the case was hopeless, and at the time we have mentioned Mr. West expired, to the great grief of his family
, and the sorrow of a large number of personal and professional friends.
Mr. West was a comparatively young man. He was born in London in 1833, and received his medical education at St. Thomas’s Hospital
, where he proved himself a most accomplished student, and left behind him such a reputation that at a later period of his life it became probable he would be elected one of the honorary medical staff of the charity. In 1854 he qualified as a member of the Royal College of Surgeons
(London), and a licentiate of the Apothecaries’ Company
; and in 1867 he became Fellow of the College of Surgeons, by examination. Directly after taking his degree, Mr. West removed to Birmingham, as house surgeon to the Queen's Hospital, a position which he occupied for three years; and he was then elected, at the same time as Mr. Gamgee
, one of the honorary surgeons of the hospital, and a clinical teacher at Queen’s College
Some of our older readers will remember the sharp contest which occurred in the professorial body and the College Council in reference to those appointments, which involved questions of legal right between the Council (which then, under the charter, elected the surgeons of the hospital) and the professors to whose approval candidates had to be submitted before election. For the time the conflict which then took place threatened to disturb the working of the hospital; but, as the event proved, the charity obtained the services of two excellent officers instead of one; and all personal difficulty was obviated by the courtesy with which Mr. Gamgee voluntarily ceded to his colleague the position of senior surgeon. From that period until his death Mr. West continued to discharge his duties at the Queen's Hospital, to which he gave most valuable service for twenty-five years; and he was also active in connection with the Queen’s College, where he held the chair of anatomy.
It is hardly within our province to speak of Mr. West in his professional capacity but we may observe that he was regarded as peculiarly skilful in operative surgery; and he was held in high esteem as a teacher of anatomy. He continued, indeed - as all medical men should be - a student to the last. Even in his periodical Continental journeys, he regularly visited the hospitals
and medical schools of the great capitals, and brought back with him copious notes, of which his clinical class and his colleagues freely received the benefit. To the literature of his profession Mr. West made several contributions of interest, in the form of papers on practical surgery; and in the same direction he rendered solid service by a translation of Langenbeck
’s work on “Gun-shot wounds of the Hip Joint,” a task which he executed much to the satisfaction of that eminent surgeon. In the medical societies
of the town and district, Mr. West took a strong and active interest. He was a member and had been president of the Midland Medical Society, a director of the Medical Benevolent Society and a vice-president of the Medical Institute.
Outside the range of his profession Mr. West had marked literary taste and sympathies, especially in regard to dramatic and particularly Shakespearean criticism. He was, for example, a leading member of the Birmingham Shakespeare Dramatic Club, and in the year of his presidency of it he contributed a very interesting paper, afterwards published, on “Shakespeare from a surgeon’s point of view”. Personally, as we have already said, Mr. West was much esteemed by a large number of friends, who will sincerely lament his untimely death, and will feel that in many respects it has created a void which will not be easily filled.