Thomas Masterman Winterbottom

Biography of Thomas Masterman Winterbottom

Portrait of Dr Winterbottom, courtesy of Tyne and Wear Archive Services
Portrait of Dr Winterbottom, courtesy of Tyne and Wear Archive Services

Thomas Masterman Winterbottom graduated MD from the University of Glasgow in 1792. He was born on 26 March 1766 at Westoe, South Shields, county Durham, son of James Winterbottom, a surgeon apothecary.

Winterbottom studied at the University of Edinburgh from 1787 to 1788, and went on to graduate MD from the University of Glasgow in 1792 with his thesis on puerperal disorder Dissertatio medica de morbo puerperali.

Upon graduation, Winterbottom was appointed physician to the then colony of Sierra Leone, where he worked for seven years. He published his experiences and observations of these seven years in two works: Medical Directions for the Use of Navigators and Settlers in Hot Climates (London, 1803), and An account of the native Africans in the neighbourhood of Sierra Leone (2 vols., 1803). During this time, Winterbottom also described African trypanosomiasis or African sleeping sickness, which can manifest itself in the swelling of lymph nodes on the back of the neck. This diagnostic characteristic became known as Winterbottom's sign.

Winterbottom returned to his home town in 1803, where he continued to practice, and became known for his philanthropic work in the region. He died in Westoe, South Shields, on 8 July 1859.


Thomas Masterman Winterbottom
Born 26 March 1766.
Died 8 July 1859.
University Link: Alumnus, Graduate
GU Degree: MD, 1792; Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences,
Occupation categories: physicians
Record last updated: 28th Oct 2013

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