Beevor, Charles Edward

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Beevor, Charles Edward

(b. London, England, 12 June 1854; d. London, 5 December 1908)

neurology, neurophysiology.

Beevor was the eldest son of Charles Beevor, a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, and Elizabeth Burrell. He was educated at Blackheath Proprietary School, London, and University College, London. He qualified as a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1878, M.B. in 1879, L.S.A. in 1880, received the M.D. in 1881, was elected a member of the Royal College of Physicians in 1882, and became a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London in 1888. From 1882 to 1883 he studied in Austria, Germany, and France with Carl Weigert, Julius Cohnheim, Wilhelm Heinrich Erb, and others. Beevor was appointed assistant physician to the National Hospital, Queen Square, London, in 1883 and to the Great (later Royal) Northern Central Hospital in 1885. He became full physician at each of these hospitals, but was able to carry out neurophysiological investigations in addition to practicing clinical neurology. On 5 December 1882 he married Blanche Adine Leadam, who bore him a son and a daughter.

Beevor was a man of pleasant yet simple personality and graceful courtesy, with a keen sense of humor and considerable musical talent. His powers of observation, his industry, and his precision as a recorder were unsurpassed, and he was intensely self-critical. He possessed such marked scientific caution that occasionally he would not publish the results of his investigations if they seemed to refute established opinion. He was retiring, modest, and quite unselfish.

Essentially, Beevor was an excellent clinical neurologist whose main ambition was to make possible more accurate diagnosis of diseases of the nervous system. He was also, however, a general physician and practiced internal medicine as well as neurology for many years. His Diseases of the Nervous System: A Handbook for Students and Practitioners (1898) revealed his clinical ability as well as his literary skill, and his work on the diagnosis and localization of cerebral tumors was outstanding.

Beevor’s researches in neurophysiology encompassed three areas.

(1) Cerebral cortical function. From 1883 to 1887 Beevor collaborated with Victor Horsley at the Brown Institution in London. They extended the work of Gustav Theodor Fritsch, Eduard Hitzig, and David Ferrier on the representation of function in the cerebral cortex. In particular they studied the motor region in monkeys by means of electrical stimulation and then carried out similar investigations on the internal capsule. Minute representation of movement could be mapped at each site. This work was an important landmark in the development of the concept of cerebral localization, and Beevor became widely known after it was published (1887–1891).

(2) Muscle movements. Beevor meticulously observed the function of muscles and muscle groups both in health and in disease. His Croonian lectures given before the Royal College of Physicians of London in 1903 and published in 1904 embodied his findings, which he linked to the earlier studies he had made on the motor cortex of the cerebral hemisphere.

(3) Cerebral circulation. Stimulated by the work of Otto Heubner (1872) and Henri Duret (1874), Beevor carried out experiments on the human brain in order to discover the areas of distribution of the five main arteries. He injected colored gelatin into all five vessels simultaneously, under a constant pressure. His findings, which appeared in 1908 and were of outstanding importance, were the first accurate ones to be published. Unfortunately Beevor agreed with Duret that the brain arteries were end-arteries, each with its own territory. This view dominated anatomical and pathological considerations of cerebral circulation for two decades and was finally disproved by R. A. Pfeifer in 1928. It is now known that Beevor’s experiments and the deductions derived from them were incorrect and that all parts of the cerebral cortex are linked by an anastomosing vascular network.


1. Original Works. With Victor Horsley, Beevor wrote “A Minute Analysis (Experimental) of the Various Movements Produced by Stimulating in the Monkey Different Regions of the Cortical Centre for the Upper Limb, as Defined by Professor Ferrier,” in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Part B, 178 (1887), 153-167; “A Further Minute Analysis by Electrico Stimulation of the So-called Motor Region of the Cortex Cerebri in the Monkey (Macacus sinicus),” ibid., 179 (1888), 205–256; and “An Experimental Investigation Into the Arrangement of the Excitable Fibres of the Internal Capsule of the Bonnet Monkey (Macacus sinicus),” ibid., 181 (1890), 49-88. Also see Diseases of the Nervous System: A Handbook for Students and Practitioners (London, 1898); The Croonian Lectures on Muscular Movements and Their Representation in the Central Nervous System (London, 1904); and “On the Distribution of the Different Arteries Supplying the Human Brain,” in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Part B, 200 (1908), 1–55.

II. Secondary Literature. Obituaries of Beevor are in The Lancet, 2 (1908), 1854-1855; and British Medical Journal, 2 (1908), 1785-1786. A short account of his life can be found in Dictionary of National Biography, 2nd supp., (London, 1912). For Beevor and his contribution to our knowledge of cerebral blood supply, see E. Clarke and C. D. O’Malley, The Human Brain and Spinal Cord (Berkeley-Los Angeles, 1968), pp. 779-783.

Edwin Clarke