The achievements of Robert Bently Todd

J.B. Lyons
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

Robert Bently Todd (1809-60) is regarded as the United Kingdom's greatest clinical neurologist prior to Hughlings Jackson. The latter recognised the significance of seizures commencing unilaterally commonly called 'Jacksonian epilepsy' and the phenomenon of post-ictal paralysis, which was observed by Todd, is spoken of as 'Todd's paralysis.' Before discussing this, and some of Todd's other contributions, including what Gowers referred to as his 'discovery' of tabes dorsalis, and his Cyclopaedia of Anatomy and Physiology, I shall offer a biographical outline. His immediate ancestors had settled in the West of Ireland. His paternal grandfather was a surgeon and apothecary in Sligo, from which coastal town his father, Charles Hawkes Todd, moved to Dublin for apprenticeship in 1797, and having obtained the Letters Testimonial or licence of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) in 1803 he remained in the Irish capital and married Elizabeth Bently. By 20 May 1831, when R.B. Todd became a Licentiate of the RCSI, his address was 5 Charlotte Street, London, and soon he had embarked on a career that would be both distinguished and varied.


Session II
Friday, 20 June 1997, 11.55 - 12.10

Second Annual Meeting of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (ISHN) and 6th Meeting of the European Club on the History of Neurology (ECHN)

Leiden, The Netherlands