Record

Ref NoDEP/MES
TitleCollection of Samuel Merriman
DescriptionMerriman was born on 25 October 1771 at Marlborough, Wiltshire. Merriman trained mainly with his paternal uncle, also Samuel Merriman, a distinguished obstetrician, moving into his home in Queen Street, Mayfair. He studied anatomy under Matthew Baillie and George Cruikshank at the famous Windmill Street School and in 1795 attended the midwifery lectures of Dr Thynne at the Westminster Lying-in Hospital. He also gained clinical experience by visiting the patients of his cousin William Merriman. Merriman qualified in 1800, becoming a member of the Society of Apothecaries. The previous year the close relationship between the two branches of the Merriman family was cemented when Samuel married Ann, his uncle's only surviving daughter. The couple continued to live in the family Mayfair home. They had two daughters and a son.

Although Merriman initially practised as an apothecary, he acquired a reputation by following his uncle's example and specializing in midwifery. He built his skills through a number of institutional posts. From 1808 he was, in turn, physician accoucheur, consulting physician accoucheur, and vice-president at the Westminster Dispensary, obtaining the necessary MD degree from Marischal College, Aberdeen, through a personal examination by Dr Henry Vaughan. In 1808 Merriman was also employed by the board of St George's, Hanover Square, to attend all difficult births in the parish. The following year he was appointed physician accoucheur to the Middlesex and Westminster lying-in hospitals.

These institutional appointments provided the clinical material which formed the basis of Merriman's many publications on obstetrical practice. In 1810 he produced a pamphlet on retroversion of the uterus. His Synopsis of the Various Kinds of Difficult Parturition (1814), a collection of case histories of complicated births and their clinical management, was widely praised. From 1810 he lectured on obstetrics at the Middlesex Hospital and in 1820-21 he also taught at St Bartholomew's Hospital. In addition to his publications on midwifery Merriman revised Underwood's Treatise on the Diseases of Children (1827) and defended the new practice of smallpox vaccination against the extravagant objections of Benjamin Moseley in Observations on some Late Attempts to Depreciate the Value and Efficiency of Vaccination (1805).

By the late 1820s Merriman's professional reputation was secure and he gradually gave up his institutional posts and teaching to concentrate on his private practice. He was active in a range of societies, including the Medical Society of London, the Linnean Society, the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society, and the Society for the Relief of Widows and Orphans of Medical Men, serving as treasurer to the two latter institutions. He was also treasurer of the Middlesex Hospital from 1840 to 1845.

Merriman died at his home at 34 Brook Street, Grosvenor Square, on 22 November 1852.
[Source: Dictionary of National Biography]

Contents: Annotated copy of 'A Letter on the Necessity of a Public Inquiry into the Cause of the Death of Her Royal Highness the Princess Charlotte and her infant', 1817-1838 annotated copies of 'The Danger and Immodesty of the Present too General Custom of Unnecessarily Employing Men-Midwives' by Philip Thicknesse and 'An Enquiry into the Merits of These Two Important Questions' by Louis Lapeyere
Date1817-1838
TermApothecary
Obstetrics and gynaecology
Smallpox
Extent2 volumes
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