Birth: 11 January 1814

Place or Registered Place of Birth: Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

Baptism: Not Known

Place of Baptism: Not Known

Death: 30 December 1899 - Aged 85

Place or Registered Place of Death: 5 Park Square West, Regent's Park, London

Date of Burial: 4 January 1900

Place of Burial: East Finchley Cemetery, London

Father: Samuel Paget

Mother: Sarah Elizabeth Tolver

Spouse(s): Lydia North

Date of Marriage: 23 May 1844

Place or Registered Place of Marriage: St. Mary's, Bryanstone Square, Middlesex


Catherine Paget (1846-1936)
John Rahere Paget (1848-1938)
Francis Paget (1851-1911)
Henry Luke Paget (1853-1937)
Stephen Paget (1855-1926)
Mary Maude Paget (1860-1945)


Armorial Families
Sir James Paget, 1st Bart., F.R.S., LL.D., D.C.L., Serjeant-Surgeon to Queen Victoria, b. 1814; d. 1899; m. 1844, Lydia, d. of Rev. Henry North, Domestic Chaplain to H.R.H. the Duke of Kent.

Oxford University Alumni
Paget, (Sir) James (Bart.), F.R.S., created D.C.L. 5 August 1868 (3s. Samuel, of Great Yarmouth), surgeon extraordinary to the Queen 1858-67, sergeant-surgeon extraordinary 1867-77, and in ordinary 1877, surgeon to the Prince of Wales 1863, created a baronet 19 Aug., 1871, father of Francis 1869, Henry L. 1872, and of Stephen 1874.

Alumni Cantabrigienses - 1953
Paget, Sir James, Bart. Hon. LL.D., 1874. [8th s. of Samuel, brewer, of Great Yarmouth (and Sarah Elizabeth, dau. of Thomas Tolver, Esq., of Chester). B. Jan. 11, 1814, at Great Yarmouth. School, private.] At St Bartholomew's Hospital. M.R.C.S., 1836; F.R.C.S., 1843. F.R.S., 1851. Hon. M.D., Dublin, Bonn and Wiirzburg; Hon. D.C.L., Oxford, 1868. Hon. F.R.C.S., Dublin and Edinburgh. Assistant Surgeon, St Bartholomew's Hospital, 1847; Surgeon, 1861; Consulting Surgeon, 1871. Surgeon-extraordinary to Queen Victoria, 1858. Surgeon to the Prince of Wales, 1863-99. Created Bart., Aug. 19, 1871. Serjeant-Surgeon to Queen Victoria, 1875. Vice-chancellor of London University, 1884-95. Married, May 23, 1844, Lydia, dau. of the Rev. Henry North, Domestic Chaplain to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales. Author, Lectures on Surgical Pathology; Records of Harvey, etc. Died Dec. 30, 1899. Brother of George E. (1827), Alfred T. (1835) and Arthur C. (1825); father of John R. (1866). (Boase, vi. 342; Medical Directories; Walford, County Families; Burke, P. and B.; Fox-Davies, Armorial Families; D.N.B.; Who was Who.)

Great Doctors of the Nineteenth Century - Sir William Hale-White - p. 162
.........He (Sir James) "drifted" back from Yarmouth, where he had gone for a holiday, to London in October 1836, to try to maintain himself, if he could. In this very month (October 9) the seemingly imprudent act of engaging himself to Miss Lydia North, the youngest daughter of the Rev. Henry North, was committed. But, says he, "No human wisdom could have devised a step so wise as was this rash engagement" for, during the more than seven years before he could marry, it gave him "help and hope enough to make even the heaviest work seem light."

The Court Magazine and Monthly Critic, Volume 13 - 1844
North, Lydia, ygst. d. of the late Rev. Henry North, to James Paget esq., of St. Bartholomew's Hospital; by the Rev. J.W. North, M.A. (Lydia's brother). at St. Mary's, Bryanstone-square, May 23.

The Times - January 1, 1900
Death of Sir James Paget
We regret to announce the death of the eminent surgeon, Sir James Paget, which took place at 5, Park-square west, Regent's-park, N.W., at 10 o'clock on Saturday night. He had been ailing for about two years, and the death is attributed to senile decay, accelerated by a chill he caught a day or two ago. He had been confined to his house since Christmas Day, when he went out for a drive. All the members of his family were present at the bed-side when he passed peacefully away. The Queen and the Prince of Wales have been communicated with, and it is expected that the funeral arrangements will be completed to-day.

Sir James Paget was a younger brother of the late Sir George Paget, K.C.B., Regius Professor of Medicine at Cambridge, and was born on the 11th of January, 1814, at Great Yarmouth, where his father, Mr. Samuel Paget, was a merchant, James was in due time entered as a student of medicine at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, and was conspicuous among his contemporaries both for intelligence and for industry, obtaining almost all the prizes that were then given. He became a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1836, and was appointed Demonstrator of Morbid Anatomy at the hospital, an office which enabled him to give occasional lectures upon the changes produced by disease, and thus to afford evidence of his capacity as a teacher. In recognition of the excellence of his work, he was soon promoted to be Lecturer on General and Morbid Anatomy and Physiology; and, in 1843, when the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons was established, he was one of the men nominated by the Council as Honorary Fellows, in order to constitute the grade. In 1844, he married Lydia, daughter of the Rev. Henry North, domestic Chaplain to H.R.H. the Duke of Kent; and in the same year he became the first Warden of the College at St. Bartholomew's, which was established as an institution in which the students might reside under supervision and with the advantage of being guided and assisted in their studies. On the first occurrence of a vacancy, he was elected Assistant Surgeon to the hospital. and passed on in due course to be full Surgeon, Lecturer on Surgery, and Consulting Surgeon, and he was also Consulting Surgeon to Christ's Hospital. In the College of Surgeons he became successively Hunterian Professor of Surgery, Member of Council, and President, but was never an Examiner, although for some years he held that office in the Army Medical Board. He was Serjeant Surgeon to the Queen, and Surgeon to the Prince of Wales; a member of the Senate and Vice Chancellor of the University of London; a Member of the Institute of France; a Fellow of the 'Royal Society; a D.C.L. of Oxford, and LL.D. of Cambridge ; and was President of the first Medical Congress held in England. He was created a Baronet in 1871 ; and sat upon two Royal Commissions, one to inquire into the condition of the London small-pox and fever hospitals, the other on small-pox and vaccination. He was President of the Clinical Society in 1869 of the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society in 1876, and of the Pathological Society in 1887.

From first to last the great intellectual characteristic of Paget's life was his industry ; an industry always devoted to study and work in or collateral to his profession, in subjects outside of which he took comparatively little interest. It was his constant practice to read, or even more frequently to write, during his numerous professional journeys; and when dining out in London, his habitual economy of time frequently induced him to change his dress in his carriage. His ability as a consultant was perhaps most conspicuous by reason of his great quickness of apprehension and his ingenuity and subtlety of thought. He possessed a remarkable faculty of seizing upon the salient points of any case to which | he might be called, and seldom failed to present these points to pupils or colleagues under some aspect in which they had not previously been regarded. In doing this, he was much aided by his unusual faculty of expression; for he was a charming and very persuasive talker, with an admirable knack of "putting things," so that it was often said of him that he would have attained to great eminence as a nisi prius lawyer. He retained for many years the reputation of being the best speaker in his profession, and rather laid himself out for displaying his powers in this direction. All his great speeches, lectures, and addresses, were prepared with the utmost care, and the most important of them were so learnt by heart that an actor would have described him as "letter perfect." In consequence of this practice he would speak for an hour at a time without a moment's hesitation or uncertainty, never missing a point, never misplacing a comma, never at a loss for a word, and each word seeming to be the most appropriate which could have been selected for the occasion. He used to say that he could learn an address an hour long in a fortnight, and that he could forget it in another. It may perhaps be doubted whether some of these compositions did not lose in freshness more than they gained in force; and whether he would not often have done well to trust to the inspiration of the moment; for, in circumstances which did not admit of preparation, he was very ready, and never seemed to be at a loss either for words or for ideas. On such occasions he was in no sense an orator, but an exceptionally clever speaker, and was especially happy in debate, or in proposing or responding to a toast. His voice was pleasant, far-reaching, and skilfully managed ; but he was not graceful in action, and spoke with a measured calmness which indicated an entire absence of enthusiasm, as well as a very slender esteem for rhetoric, poetry, or sentiment, and an absolute hatred of exaggeration, but occasionally with a tone of almost mischievous banter. On the day when he had delivered the Hunterian Oration at the College of Surgeons, in the presence of the Prince of Wales and of a very distinguished audience, the Prince and other visitors dined at the College in the evening. Mr. Gladstone, who was among the guests, was asked to propose Paget's health, and did so in a very characteristic speech of perhaps twenty-five minutes duration. When the applause had subsided Paget replied as follows:-

Mr. President, your Royal Highness, my Lords, and Gentlemen,-I have to offer my most heartfelt thanks to Mr. Gladstone for the too flattering way in which be has been pleased to speak of me and of my work, and to all of you for the kindness with which his eulogium has been received. There is only one way in which it may be possible for me to surpass Mr. Gladstone as an orator, and that way I will proceed to put in practice. You all know that, although speech may be silvern, silence is golden. You shall have the gold!

Another illustration of his readiness was furnished by a circumstance which occurred early in his hospital career. A disastrous surgical mistake ha been made by one of his colleagues, and was being discussed at a meeting of the staff. A hope was expressed that the medical journals might not get hold of the story; and, almost at the moment, a messenger brought into the room the just-issued number of the Lancet. Paget opened it, and, exclaiming "Listen to this," read what seemed to be a perfectly prepared and very severe article upon the delinquent, which, when it was afterwards looked for by the rest, he was found to have extemporized as a joke. In later years he would hardly have yielded to such a temptation; but those who knew him well were familiar with occasional remarks of apparent simplicity and real slyness, the latter quality accentuated by the merry twinkle of his eyes. It is said, and the story, if not true, is at least characteristic, that he once bought a hat which, on wearing it, he found to press him uncomfortably and which he took to be stretched. As he stood in the shop uncovered and waiting for it a customer hurried in and rather roughly addressed him with the words, "Here, I want a hat!" "So do I," said Paget.

Paget wrote much in early life, not only upon professional subjects, but also as an anonymous contributor to various journals. As a writer, he was infinitely careful and painstaking. It would probably be impossible to produce a single letter of his which would betray any sign of haste or impatience, and it was his custom to write everything which he intended for publication four or five times over, a practice of which there is abundant evidence in the finish of his books. His best works are probably the Pathological Catalogue of the Hunterian collection at the College of Surgeons, the first volume of the catalogue of the museum at St. Bartholomew's. Hospital, and his two volumes of lectures on surgical pathology. The last-named were really the natural outcome of his previous labours in the museums. He also published a volume of clinical lectures, a subsequent small volume entitled "Studies of Old Case- books." and various lectures and addresses separately at different times. Among the latter is an interesting discourse on vegetable pathology delivered at Cambridge, and dealing chiefly with the processes of repair in the vegetable kingdom. Botany had from his youth been one of his favourite pursuits, and before entering at the hospital he had written a small book upon the subject.

The advanced age to which Paget lived, implying, as it does, that his most active work was completed some time ago, and taken in connexion with the rapid progress of surgery during the last few years, renders it possible to attempt some judicial estimate of his professional merits. As a physiologist he was neither great nor of striking originality, and his papers on this branch of science were distinguished by ingenuity rather than by breadth. His knowledge indeed, was chiefly second-hand, but his method of imparting it as a lecturer was delightful, and he was a master of the art of illustration by extemporized diagrams. Millais's portrait of him, with the chalk in his hand, fitly recalls and perpetuates this aspect of his ability.

In pathology he was the first man of his day in Great Britain. His two published volumes on surgical pathology, already mentioned, afford some evidence of the character of his studies in this direction. His chief subjects were the process of repair, hypertrophy and atrophy, tumours and malignant growths of every kind. He did much to elucidate the nature of tumours, although some of his conclusions have been superseded by the subsequent researches of Virchow. In surgery he was unequal, but in many departments of it he stood in the front rank. He was especially good in relation to tumours of every kind ; and his lucid description of a disease of the breast which often precedes cancer has led to its being called after his name. He was the first to give a clear account of the curious affection of the skeleton which is known as osteituis deformans ; and his paper on gouty inflammation of the veins is a conspicuous example of his skill in observation and description. As an operator he lacked the mechanical dexterity necessary for the attainment of the highest excellence, but was always cool and collected, and faced unexpected difficulties with the fullness of resource which springs from complete anatomical and surgical knowledge.

Paget's management of other men and of affairs was very skilful, and depended to a great extent upon his constant willingness to listen to argument and to reconsider his opinions. No one could yield to adverse pressure ;with a better grace, and he never seemed to be so possessed by an idea as to he unable to throw it aside. Perhaps he was rather too fond of compromise, and he has been known to express wonder how men could so easily persuade themselves that their own views must of necessity be correct. In the Council of the College of Surgeons he exercised great influence, which was partly due to his inclination to be with the majority. He went with the tide to a considerable extent, and -would seldom persevere in an opposition which seemed unlikely to be successful ; not from the slightest inclination towards time-serving, but from genuine intellectual modesty, which led him to distrust his own judgment, and to think of the probability that others might understand the question at issue better than he did himself. He had an exceptional power of attracting men to him, and of securing their friendship and good will; and an equal skill in avoiding causes of offence.

On one occasion, when demonstrator of morbid anatomy at St. Bartholomew's, he received from a country practitioner a substance removed from a dead body, with a request that he would pronounce whether the "tumour" was or was not cancerous. His examination showed it to be a piece of healthy natural structure, only capable of being mistaken for a tumour by a very unusual degree of ignorance. A man of less tact would have said what it was and would have made an enemy. Paget was content to reply that he had examined the "specimen" and that it was not cancerous. It would probably be impossible for even his most intimate friends to recall observations of his with regard to other men which, if repeated to them, they would have been inclined to resent. In questions of right, however, he admitted of no compromise; and, both by precept and by example, he invariably upheld the highest standard of professional honour and integrity; while his gentle manners and his faultless tact enabled him to escape from many positions of difficulty. Always upright, always courteous, always conciliatory, it need be no matter for surprise that, in his own calling, he was the most popular man in the profession. No sketch of his life would be complete without mention of his strong religious convictions, which appear in many passages of his writings, and which made him a regular attendant at church and careful in the observance of the religious ordinances of the Church of England.

Paget's longevity was only one evidence among many that, although not apparently robust, and although he more than once suffered from serious illness, be was naturally of strong constitution. He had great power of enduring fatigue or want of sleep, and was curiously indifferent to personal comfort. He often took hasty meals in his carriage, not allowing himself time to eat in any more regular way. He retained in advanced life, to an extraordinary degree, not only his faculties, but the use of his senses. When over 80 he read and wrote letters without glasses, and his writing, always small and neat, became even smaller and neater as he advanced in years. Throughout his long life he received abundantly what he once described to medical I students as the legitimate rewards of their intended calling, "gratitude from the poor, gratitude with recompense from the rich," and it would be difficult to point to a more useful or a more blameless life. It may be said of him, as of the "good old man" in Bishop Earle's "Microcosmography," that "he goeth away too soon whensoever, with all men's sorrow but his own," and that, among all who enjoyed the privilege of his friendship, "his memory will be green when it is twice as old.”

Sir James Paget is succeeded by his eldest. son, John Rahere Paget, a member of the Bar, who married in 1883 Julia Norrie, daughter of George L. A. Moke, of New York, and has a family. His second son is Dean of Christ Church; the third, the Rev. R. Luke Paget, is vicar of St. Pancras ; and the fourth, Mr. Stephen Paget, F.R.C.S., surgeon to the West London Hospital, is following his father's profession in London, and is further known as the biographer of John Hunter and of Ambroise Paré. Sir James also leaves two daughters, one married to the Rev. H.L. Thompson, vicar of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford ; the other unmarried. Lady Paget died in 1895.

The Times - February 22, 1900
By his will, Sir James Paget, Sergeant-Surgeon to the Queen, who died on December 30 last, disposed of estate of the gross value of £74,701.


1851 Census:

Saint Bartholomews Hospital And College, Middlesex
James Paget - Head - Married - 37 - F.R.C.S. (Eng.) - Assistant Surgeon at St. Bartholomews Hospital and Warden of Collegiate Establishment. - Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

1861 Census:

Worplesdon Lodge, Perry Hill, Worplesdon, Surrey
James Paget - Visitor - Married - 47 - 1814 - Surgeon - Teacher at the Royal College of Surgeons - Yarmouth
Lydia Paget - Visitor (Wife) - 46 - 1815 - London
Catherine Paget - Visitor (Daughter) - 14 - 1847 - Scholar - St. Bartholomew, Middlesex
James, Lydia and Catherine were visitors at the home of Maria Bovill and her family.

1871 Census:

Queen's Hotel, Church Road, Croydon, Surrey
James Paget - Head - 57 - Surgeon, Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, London - Yarmouth, Norfolk
Lydia Paget - Wife - 56 - Landowner (Deleted) - London

1881 Census:

1, Harewood Place, St George Hanover Square
James Paget - Head - Married - 67 - Surgeon F.R.C.S. England - Yarmouth
Lydia Paget - Wife - 66 - London
John R. Paget - Son - Single - 33 - Barrister - London
Stephen Paget - Son - 25 - Student of Medicine - London
Mary Maud Paget - Daughter - Single - 20 - London

1891 Census:

1, Harswood Place, Dering Street, St George Hanover Square, London
James Paget - Head - Married - 77 - Surgeon - Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

Sir James Paget, Bart