William Cheselden: anatomist, surgeon, and medical illustrator.Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1999 Nov 01; 24(21):2282-9.S
William Cheselden was Great Britain's foremost surgeon/scientist in the first half of the 18th century. Cheselden directly challenged the Company of Barber-Surgeons' exclusive right to control dissection in London by being the first to conduct a regular series of anatomy lectures and demonstrations outside of the Company's Hall. He incorporated his lecture syllabus into a handbook of anatomy, The Anatomy of the Humane Body, which was used by students for nearly 100 years. Cheselden also wrote the text and drew the illustrations for a majestic atlas of comparative osteology, the Osteographia, or the Anatomy of the Bones. Cheselden used his superior knowledge of anatomy to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with perineal lithotomy, one of the few operations possible in his era. Sagacious and pragmatic, Cheselden recognized that the enlightened practice of surgery beginning to take root in 18th-century London could flourish only under an autonomous body of surgeons. Cheselden used his personal funds and political skills to urge Parliament to pass legislation for the dissolution of the combined Company of Barber-Surgeons and the establishment of separate and distinct Surgeons' and Barbers' Companies. After disjoinder of the two groups on May 2, 1745, Cheselden served as one of the Wardens of the new Company of Surgeons--a predecessor of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. In 1746, Cheselden, who helped design the first Surgeons' Hall, served as the Company's Master.