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CHEADLE, Walter Butler (1835-1910)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0113 MS-CHEAW
Held at: Royal College of Physicians
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Full title: CHEADLE, Walter Butler (1835-1910)
Date(s): 1877-1934 (mainly 1877-1888)
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 1 volume; 1 file
Name of creator(s): Cheadle | Walter Butler | 1835-1910 | physician


Administrative/Biographical history:

Walter Butler Cheadle was born on 15 October 1835 in Colne, Lancashire, the son of James Cheadle, Vicar of Bingley, Yorkshire. Cheadle was educated at Bingley Grammar School, before proceeding to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, in 1855. He graduated BA in 1859, and then MB two years later, having studied medicine at both Cambridge and St George's Hospital, London.

In 1862 he accompanied William Fitzwilliam, Viscount Milton, on an expedition to explore a route through the Rocky Mountains in Canada. On their return to England in 1864 he authored the popular and successful account of their adventures, The North-West Passage by Land (1865), which ran to nine editions. Indeed the 1892 expedition conducted by Sir Sandford Fleming through the Rocky Mountains to plan the Canadian Pacific Railway, was largely guided by Cheadle's track. Cheadle became one of the earliest fellows of the Royal Geographic Society.

In 1865 he proceeded MA and MD at Cambridge, and became a member of the Royal College of Physicians. In the same year he was elected physician to the Western General Dispensary. In 1866 Cheadle was appointed as assistant physician to St Mary's Hospital, where he lectured on pharmacology, pathology, medicine and clinical medicine, and was for many years a dermatologist. He was also Dean of the medical school for four years, 1869-73, during which time the number of students more than doubled. In 1869 he became assistant physician at the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street. In 1870 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, and began an extended connection with the College.

Cheadle acquired a considerable reputation as a consultant on children's diseases. Indeed in his private practice most of his patients were children. He pioneered work on the artificial feeding of infants and on childhood rheumatism. In 1877 he was the first to define a then mysterious childhood disease, which he named 'infantile scurvy'. It was characterised by pain and tenderness of the limbs, haemorrhages, and swellings of the gums. He ascribed the condition to artificial foods that possessed no anti-scorbutic properties. Described as `a radical in politics', Cheadle advocated the admission of women into the medical profession, and was one of the first lecturers at the London Medical School for Women (DNB, 1912, p.358).

It is said that he was `at his best as a clinical teacher of senior and postgraduate students' (Munk's Roll, 1955, p.176). It was his example of regard for his patients that was `one of the greatest benefits he conferred upon his students' (BMJ, 1910, p.908). A series of his postgraduate lectures on feeding infants was published under the title, On the Principles and Exact Conditions to be observed in the Artificial Feeding of Infants; the Properties of Artificial Foods; and the Diseases which arise from Faults of Diet in Early Life (1889). His medical writings were considered `essentially terse and practical', and none more so than his Occasional Lectures on the Practice of Medicine (1900), which was `full of practical hints from a mature judgment' (The Lancet, 1910, p.962).

In 1884 Cheadle visited Canada with the British Association, where he contracted dysentery which permanently injured his health. In 1885 he became physician to in-patients at St Mary's. Between 1885-88 he acted as examiner in medicine in the Royal College of Physicians. Cheadle became a councilor at the College in 1889-91, censor in 1892-93, and senior censor in 1898. In 1892 he left the active staff of Great Ormond Street, and became honorary consulting physician. In 1898 he endowed the Cheadle prize and a gold medal for proficiency in clinical medicine at St Mary's. He delivered the Lumleian Lectures at the College in 1900, on cirrhosis of the liver. In 1904 he retired from active service at St Mary's, and became honorary consulting physician.

Cheadle was married twice, first in 1866 to Anne Murgatroyd, by whom he had four sons, all of whom survived him, and secondly in 1892 to Emily Mansel Mansel, Inspector of Queen Victoria's Jubilee Institute for Nurses. In 1909 Cheadle was operated upon for intestinal obstruction. He died in London on 25 March 1910, and was buried in Eastbourne.

The North-West Passage by Land (London, 1865)
On the Principles and Exact Conditions to be observed in the Artificial Feeding of Infants; the Properties of Artificial Foods; and the Diseases which arise from Faults of Diet in Early Life (London, 1889, 5th ed. ed. by Dr F.J. Poynton, 1902)
The Various Manifestations of the Rheumatic State as exemplified in Childhood and Early Life; Lectures delivered before the Harveian Society of London (London, 1889)
1831; A Retrospect (Harveian Society of London, Presidential Address, 1893) (London, 1893)
Occasional Lectures on the Practice of Medicine (London, 1900)
On some Cirrhoses of the Liver (Lumelian Lectures, 1900) (London, 1900)
Cheadle's Journal, being the Account of the First Journey across Canada undertaken for Pleasure only, by Dr Cheadle and Lord Milton, 1862/1863, John Gellner (ed.) (Toronto, 1967?)


Scope and content/abstract:

Cheadle's papers, 1877-1934, include his notes on the use of anti-scorbutic treatment for scurvy in young children, includes notes of six cases, with temperature charts, 1877-88. Also includes explanatory notes from J.F. Poynton, 1910; Original paintings and photograph of infantile scurvy by Cheadle, from the cases of Sir Thomas Barlow, to accompany Cheadle's original records of the cases, [1877-79], with letter presenting paintings to the College from Poynton, 1934.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:

Restricted access may apply to parts of the collection containing sensitive patient information

Conditions governing reproduction:

All requests should be referred to the Archivist

Finding aids:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Presented to the Royal College of Physicians by Dr J.F. Poynton, his notes in June 1910 and his paintings on 1 February 1934

Allied Materials

Related material:

There is material relating to Cheadle held elsewhere in the College archives, including a letter to Albert Forbes Sieveking on the death of his father, Sir Edward Henry Sieveking, 1904 (MS728/11); Correspondence in his role as a Censor of the College in the case of Dr Herbert Tibbits and his treatment of disease by electric currents, 1892-93 (MS2411/103, 120, 134); Letter from Cheadle to the College informing them of his instructing the removal of his name from the list of contributors to the 'Baby' magazine, in a College file on advertising, 1887 (MS2412/43);

Cheadle's journal and papers relating to Canada, 1862-64, are held at the National Archives of Canada. See the National Register of Archives for details.

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

`Three Cases of Scurvy Supervening on Rickets in Young Children', The Lancet, November 16, 1878

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Sources: Lives of the Fellows of the Royal College of Physicians of London, 1826-1925, compiled by G.H. Brown (London, 1955) [Munk's Roll, 1955, pp.176-77]; Dictionary of National Biography, Second Supplement, Vol. I, Sir Sidney Lee (ed.) (London, 1912) [DNB, 1912, pp.357-58]; `Obituary - Walter Butler Cheadle', British Medical Journal, 1910 Vol. I [BMJ, 1910, pp.908-9]; `Obituary - Walter Butler Cheadle', The Lancet, 1910 Vol. I, pp.962-64; Historical Manuscripts Commission On-Line National Register of Archives.
Compiled by Katharine Williams

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives, Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Compiled July 2003

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