Person NameMayhew; Edward (1808-1868); Veterinary surgeon; author; artist
EpithetVeterinary surgeon; author; artist
ActivityEdward Mayhew was born in 1808. In the early part of his life he was a theatre producer, artistic critic, journalist and playwright. Aged 35 he decided to train as a veterinary surgeon and, in April 1843, became a student at the London Veterinary College where he was appointed demonstrator of anatomy the following year whilst still a student. Major General Sir Frederick Smith mentions Edward Mayhew in his book ‘The Early History of Veterinary Literature’ (Vol 4, pp 121-125). He describes him ‘as a student [of] outstanding ability and close application... [who] possessed the spirit of scientific enquiry.’ Mayhew was elected vice-president of the Veterinary Medical Association in November 1844 and qualified as a member of the RCVS on 6th February 1845. He became a member of the RCVS Council just over a year later, on 4th May 1846. He became embroiled in a dispute with Professor Charles Spooner, who was deputy professor at the College, and which resulted in Mayhew suing Spooner for slander in 1848. Spooner withdrew his slander and Mayhew was awarded costs. Having failed to be re-elected to membership of the RCVS Council in 1849, after publicly criticising the running of the London Veterinary College, the inadequacy of the teaching there and the abuses of office committed by some members of the RCVS, Mayhew played no further part in the affairs of the RCVS after 1850. According to some reports of meetings of the RCVS, he was someone who spoke his mind, regardless of the people he might offend. In particular he directed his criticisms not only against Charles Spooner but also against Professor William Dick, founder of the Veterinary College in Edinburgh. Smith (ibid) takes Mayhew’s side in his dispute with Spooner and his attacks on the RCVS. In the short time that he spent practicing as a vet Mayhew made noted contribution to the profession, including canine obstetrics. He notably described the use of the stomach tube in horses and illustrated the method in his book ‘The Illustrated Horse Doctor’. After leaving the college he set up his own practice near Paddington Station, which dealt mainly with dogs. Two of his books became authoritative guides: ‘The Illustrated Horse Doctor’ and ‘The Illustrated Stable Management’. He was also a talented artist and produced a series of fine illustrations to accompany the books, which variously depict diseases, methods of treatment and also include drawings of tools and stables as well as advice on horse management. For the drawings of stables, he received help from his brother Julius, who was an architect. The overwhelming majority of his illustrations in the RCVS collection relates to horses, with only two known drawings of dogs in the collection. This is all the more surprising since, according to Smith (ibid), ‘...he was far more skilled in knowledge of dogs than with horses’.
He died on 24th August 1868 after a long illness, having spent the last fifteen years of his life in a wheelchair.
RelationshipsElder son of Josua Mayhew and his wife . He married Mary Anne Gosney. She died 11th February 1886.
He had four younger brothers, Henry, (who founded the magazine Punch), Alfred, Julius and Augustus. He also had four sisters, Rosalie, Emily, Clarissa and Lauretta.
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