Joseph  Thomas Clover 1825-1882

Clover was born in the town of Aylesham in Norfolk. He was educated at the Gray Friars' Priory School, Norwich.

When he was 16, Clover was apprenticed as a surgical dresser to a local surgeon, Charles Gibson.

Clover became house surgeon to James Syme upon graduation in 1846. He became Resident Medical Officer at University College Hospital in 1848, and was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1850.

Originally Clover developed an interest in the field of urology. He then worked as a general practitioner in 1853. He was James Symes house surgeon for some time. He set up his practice at 3 Cavendish Place, London, which became his home until his death in 1882. This site is now commemorated by a plaque which bears his name.

After several years in general practice he devoted his practice to anaesthetics, and became "chloroformist" to the University College Hospital, the Westminster Hospital and the London Dental Hospital. Clover's choice of specialty helped to fill the vacancy created by the death of John Snow in 1858.311

He developed his own inhaler.

Clover was probably present at Robert Liston's first operation under ether anaesthesia at University College Hospital in December 1846.

Clover wrote in 1871 that he had given chloroform more than 7000 times, in addition to other anaesthetics in another 4000 cases, without a fatality. However, he lost a patient to chloroform under his hands in 1874. He described the case in the British medical Journal.

John Snow is heralded as the first physician anaesthetist in this country if not the world. Joseph Clover however is probably regarded as the first real working anaesthetist and innovator. Like John Snow before him, he anaesthetised many a famous name; Sir Robert Peel and Florence Nightingale were among them.

He developed the first apparatus to deliver chloroform in a controllable amount and having delivered many thousands of anaesthetics in his lifetime he is only known to have had one death as a result. He also devised and invented a ether inhaler in 1877. Unfortunately he died quite young aged just 57.


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The History of Surgery and Anaesthesia was created as a free resource to educate Students or indeed anyone wishing to understand the beginings of surgery and Anaesthesia.

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