Home, Everard

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Home, Everard

(b, Hull, England, 6 May 1756; d. London, England, 31 August 1832)

surgery, comparative anatomy.

Home, the son of Robert Boyne Home, an army surgeon, and Mary Hutchinson, was a king’s scholar at Westminster School. John Hunter, who had married Home’s sister Anne in 1771, took him as a surgical pupil at St. George’s Hospital in 1773. Home qualified through the Company of Surgeons in 1778 and served at Plymouth Naval Hospital and with the army in Jamaica from 1779 to 1784. He returned to England to be Hunter’s assistant in surgery, teaching, and reserch and was elected fellow of the Royal Society in 1785 and assistant surgeon to St. George’s in 1787.

In 1792 Home married Jane Tunstall, widow of Stephen Thompson; they and two sons, the elder of whom became a naval officer, and four daughters. Home joined the army in Flanders in the spring of 1793 but returned before Hunter’s sudden death on 16 October. He was appointed surgeon to St. George’s replacing Hunter, and published a short biography of him in 1794. As executor he persuaded the government to buy Hunter’s museum and entrust it to the Royal College of Surgeons; he became principal curator and, from 1817, a trustee, the resident conservator being William Clift. Home was master of the Royal College of Sureons in 1813 and its first president in 1822; he endowed the Hunterian oration, was orator in 1814 and 1822, and gave courses in comparative anatomy in 1810, 1813, and 1822. He promised a catalog of the museum but produced only a synopsis; and in 1823 he burned Hunter’s manuscripts, claiming to have published all of worth in his “hundred papers in the Philosophical Transactions which form materials for a catalogue raisonné of the Hunterian collection.” Enough of Hunter’s writing survives to prove that Home had often published Hunter’s observations as his own.

Home was appointed sergeant surgeon to the king in 1808. He attended Prince Ernest, duke of Cumberland, in 1810 after the attempt on his life and, in 1811, the prince regent (George IV), to whom he became a valued friend; he was created a baronet in 1813. Home withdrew partially from hospital practice in 1808 and retired in 1827. He was surgeon to Chelsea Hospital for Army Pensioners from 1821 and died there at the age of seventy-six.

Home was a fearless and resourceful surgeon and an excellent teacher; Benjamin Brodie was his best pupil. He conducted wide-ranging research in comparative anatomy and wrote some seventy anatomical and fifty surgical papers, largely based on Hunter’s unpublished material. Brodie said of him that “his ambition to appear as a discoverer increased while his mental powers declined.” His best work is in his surgical books, particularly that on treatment of ulcers on the legs, drawn from his military experience. He gave the physiological Croonian lectures at the Royal Society fifteen times between 1794 and 1826. In his last years Home lost the confidence of his colleagues through his overbearing vanity and his suspected dishonesty in the destruction of Hunter’s Papers.


I. Original Works. Oppenheimer (see below) provides a full list of Home’s publications. His chief writings include A Dissertation on the Properties of Pus (London, 1788); “A Short Account of the Author’s Life,” in John Hunter, A Treatise on the Blood (London, 1794); Practical Observations on the Treatment of Strictures in the Urethra (London, 1795), 2nd ed., entitled... Strictures in the Urethra and Oesophagus 3 vols. (London, 1797–1821); Practical Observations on the Treatment of Ulcers on the Legs (London, 1797; 2nd ed., 1801); Observations on Cancer (London, 1805); John Hunter, A Treatise on Venereal Disease, 3rd ec. by HOme (London, 1810); Practical Observations on Treatment of the Diseases of the Prostate Gland, 2 vols. (London, 1811–1818); The Hunterian Oration (London, 1814); Lectures on Comparative Anatony, 6 vols. (London, 1814–1828); Synopsis of the Hunterian Museum (London, 1818); “Account of a New Mode of Performing the High Operation for the Stone,” in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 110 (1820), 209–213; The Hunterian Oration (London, 1822), with a eulogy of Sir Joseph Banks; and A Short Tract on the Formation of Tumours (London, 1830).

MSS sources are archives of the Royal College of Surgeons, Royal Society, and St. George’s Hospital, London; students’ notes of Home’s surgical lectures are in several libraries, including those of the Royal College of Surgeons of England and the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

There are paintings by William Beechey, engraved for Home’s Lectures, vol. I (1814), and by Thomas Phillips, given by Home to the Royal Society; a marble bust by Francis Chantrey is at the Royal College of Surgeons.

II. Seondary Literature. Notices by contemporaries are B. C. Brodie’s reminiscences of Home in his Hunterian Oration (London, 1837), pp. 29–31, and his Autobiography (1865), pp. 45–49; and W. Clift’s evidence to the House of Commons Select Committee on Medical Education (1834), in Lancet (11 July 1835), 2 , 471–476.

Modern studies include the following (listed chronologically): J. M. Oppenheimer, New Aspects of John and William Hunter (New York, 1946), pt. 1, “Everard Home and the Destruction of the John Hunter Manuscripts,” with appendix, “Everard Home’s Publications”; D. C. L. Fitzwilliams, “The Destruction of John Hunter’s Papers,” in Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, 42 (1949), 1871–1876; and J. Dobson, William Clift (London, 1954), which discusses the relations between Home and Clift and provides documentary evidence of Home’s plagiarism.

William LeFanu