|Description||Carlisle was born on 15 February 1768 at Stillington, Durham, England, the third son of Thomas Carlisle and his first wife Barbara. He was sent to his maternal uncle, Anthony Hubback, in York, England, for medical training. Following his death, Carlisle was transferred in 1784 to a surgeon, William Green, of Durham, England. He then went to London, England, probably in the late 1780s, where he attended lectures by John Hunter, Matthew Baillie, George Fordyce, and others, and became the house pupil of Henry Watson, whose post as surgeon to the Westminster Hospital Carlisle obtained in 1793, on Watson's death. The next year, Carlisle began offering lectures on surgery, part of an attempt to establish a formal medical school there.|
Carlisle was one of the original members when the Royal College of Surgeons received its royal charter in 1800, and he held a number of offices there, sitting on council and on the court of examiners, and serving as vice-president and twice as president (1829 and 1839). He donated a number of specimens and books to the college.
He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1804. His Croonian lectures (1804-5) to the society dealt, successively, with muscular motion and the muscles of fish. His most famous scientific contribution had been communicated to the Royal Society in 1800. Drawing on Volta's recent discovery of a chemical means of generating electricity, Carlisle and William Nicholson electrolyzed water into its constituent gases. Carlisle returned once in 1820 to his youthful experiments in electrochemistry, but, more importantly, the young Humphry Davy modified the apparatus and used it in his own fundamental researches.
Carlisle's connections helped him secure the post of professor of anatomy (1808) at the Royal Academy. Through his appointment as surgeon to the duke of Gloucester, he became surgeon-extraordinary to the prince regent. When the latter became George IV, Carlisle was knighted.
He died on 2 November 1840 and was buried in Kensal Green cemetery.
[Source: Dictionary of National Biography]
Contents: Pamphlet against the employment of men in the practice of midwifery, c1835