AIM25 : Click here to go back to the AIM25 homepage
Archives in London and the M25 area

CHAPLIN, Thomas Hancock Arnold (1864-1944)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0113 MS-CHAPT
Held at: Royal College of Physicians
  Click here to find out how to view this collection at ›
Full title: CHAPLIN, Thomas Hancock Arnold (1864-1944)
Date(s): 1915-1920
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 3 volumes
Name of creator(s): Chaplin | Thomas Hancock Arnold | 1864-1944 | physician


Administrative/Biographical history:

Thomas Hancock Arnold Chaplin was born in Fulbourn, Cambridgeshire, on 30 August 1864, the youngest son of Abraham Thomas Chaplin, a nonconformist farmer and merchant. Chaplin was educated at Tettenhall College, near Wolverhampton, and Llandaff House, Cambridge. He then entered St John's College, Cambridge, in 1883, and in 1886 took a degree in natural sciences. He studied medicine for three years, undertaking his clinical studies at St Bartholomew's Hospital, and graduated MB in 1889. In the same year he became a house physician at the City of London Hospital for Diseases of the Chest.

In 1892 Chaplin became a member of the Royal College of Physicians. In the same year he was appointed as registrar and pathologist at the City of London Hospital. In 1893 he was appointed assistant physician at the Hospital, and in the same year graduated MD from Cambridge. Between 1893 and 1904 Chaplin was also assistant physician at the East London Hospital for Children. He was furthermore physician in London for the Ventnor Consumption Hospital and physician to the Eastern Dispensary. In 1894 he published, with Sir Andrew Clark and Wilfred James Hadley, a textbook on Fibroid Diseases of the Lung.

Chaplin conducted his private practice in the City, and acted as medical adviser to many City banks, commercial firms and shipping companies. In 1902 he became a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, and in the same year co-authored The Science and Art of Prescribing (1902), with E.H. Colbeck. In 1903 he was appointed medical inspector to the P&O Company, and held the position for 35 years. He was also medical inspector to the New Zealand Shipping Company and the British India Steam Navigation Company. While he held these appointments many improvements were made to the efficiency of medical service at sea. Chaplin was also medical adviser to the Chamber of Shipping, and twice chaired a committee set up by the Board of Trade for the revision of drugs to be carried on board ship.

Chaplin had a love for English and French historical literature, and his studies of the exile of Napoleon I on the island of St Helena made his name known to the public. He wrote The Illness and Death of Napoleon Bonaparte (1913), and later A St Helena Who's Who (1914). In 1917-18 Chaplin delivered the FitzPatrick Lectures at the Royal College of Physicians, on the history of medicine. In 1918 he was appointed as the College's Harveian Librarian, a position he was `admirably suited' to, due to his love of old books and interest in literature (Munk's Roll, 1955, p.437). In 1918 he had published, with the help of his wife, an illustrated version of the Lives of the Fellows of the Royal College of Physicians of London (Munk's Roll), which included engraved portraits of the fellows. In 1922 he delivered the Harveian Oration. In the same year he retired from the active staff of the City of London Hospital, after 29 years service, and became consulting physician.

Chaplin was a collector of portraits of medical men, and he gave to the Royal College of Physicians 250 portraits, and 350 to the Medical Society of London. He addressed the Medical Society twice on the subject of engraved portraits of medical men. He was president of the History of Medicine Section of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1936.

Chaplin had married Margaret Douie in 1909, but they had no children. His wife died in 1938. Chaplin died in Bedford, on 18 October 1944, at the age of 80.

Fibroid Diseases of the Lung, including Fibroid Phthisis, Thomas Hancock Arnold Chaplin, Sir Andrew Clark, & Wilfred James Hadley (London, 1894)
The Science and Art of Prescribing, Thomas Hancock Arnold Chaplin & E.H. Colbeck (1902)
History of the College Club at the Royal College of Physicians of London. With a Continuation of the History from 1909 to 1926 by A. Chaplin, Joseph Frank Payne; Thomas Hancock Arnold Chaplin (London, 1909; 1926)
The Illness and Death of Napoleon Bonaparte, a Medical Criticism (London, 1913)
Thomas Shortt, with Biographies of some other Medical Men associated with the Case of Napoleon, 1815-1821 (London, 1914)
A St Helena Who's Who; or, a Directory of the Island during the Captivity of Napoleon (London, 1914; 2nd ed. 1919)
The Roll of the Royal College of Physicians of London; Illustrated with Portraits Collected and Inlaid by A. and M.D. Chaplin, William Munk; Thomas Hancock Arnold Chaplin & Margaret Douie Chaplin (London, 1918)
A Descriptive Catalogue of the Portraits, Busts, Silver and Other Objects of Interest... [& a List of Portraits of Fellows to be found elsewhere] (London, 1926)
A Catalogue of the Engraved Portraits of British Medical Men; compiled by H. Bruen. With Additions and an Index of Painters and Engravers by A. Chaplin and W.J. Bishop, H. Bruen (London, 1930)
A Handlist of the Portraits of British Medical Men Engraved in Mezzotint (London, 1931)


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of Thomas Hancock Arnold Chaplin, 1915-1920, consisting of his papers on medical history, specifically on the rate of mortality in the British Army in 1815, 1915; an analysis of the Roll of the Royal College of Physicians by William Munk (Munk's Roll), 1918; and a history of medical education in the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, 1500-1850, 1920.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

All requests should be referred to the Archivist

Finding aids:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Provenance of the collection is unknown

Allied Materials

Related material:

There is material relating to Chaplin held elsewhere in the College archives, particularly relating to his role as Harveian Librarian, including correspondence regarding bequests to the Library of books and manuscripts, 1921-41, such as Herbert Morley Fletcher's presentation of an author's copy of Munk's Roll, 1937, and the presentation of the family tree of Thomas Sydenham by W.B. Vaillant, 1938-39 (MS54/23-24, 28; MS108/87; MS501; MS516/2b; MS697/4-86; MS2000/10; MS2002/32-34; MS2259); Correspondence regarding the administration of the Library and enquiries about the Library's collections, 1921-40, including correspondence concerning the protection of the collections from bomb damage during the Second World War, 1940, and a list compiled by Chaplin of the books in the Library printed in England before 1600 (MS490; MS516/40; MS554/226; MS1024/5-6; MS2000/145, p.264; 209-229, 239-241, 302); Plan of the Library by Chaplin for exhibition on William Harvey, 1928 (MS109/42); Letter from Chaplin to Horace Barlow regarding institutional bookplates, [1924] (MS2354/258).

There is also material relating to Chaplin's professional role as a physician and medical historian to be found elsewhere in the College archives, including letters from Chaplin to the College regarding his delivery of the Fitzpatrick Lectures, 1916-17 (MS1013/5-6); Letters from Chaplin to the Library donating William Heberden's Goulstonian Lectures delivered in 1749, and Sir George Baker's report of the post-mortem examination of George, 3rd Viscount Midleton, and enquiring as to the College's engraved portraits collection, 1917 (MS2000/145, pp.211, 217, 222); and a copy of Chaplin's Harveian Oration, 1922 (MS1024/414). There are a number of Chaplin's letters amongst the College's Autographed Letters Collection (ALS).

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Sources: Lives of the Fellows of the Royal College of Physicians of London, Vol. IV, 1826-1925, compiled by G.H. Brown (London, 1955) [Munk's Roll, 1955, pp. 436-37]; `Obituary - Arnold Chaplin', British Medical Journal, Vol. II, 1944 [BMJ, 1944, pp.579-80]; `Obituary - T.H. Arnold Chaplin', The Lancet, Vol. II, 1944 [The Lancet, 1944, p.582].
Compiled by Katharine Martin

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 October 2003

Related Subject Search

* To search for other records with similar subjects, tick any subjects above then click "Run New Search"

Related Personal Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"

Related Corporate Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"