Among the great medical personalities of Guy's in the first half of the 19th century, who were responsible for the flowering of medicine in London, the surgeons were outnumbered heavily by the physicians. Bright, Addison, and Hodgkin are the best known of the latter. On the surgical roster Astley Cooper (1768-1841) enjoyed an enviable position that was never seriously threatened. Hale-White repeated the generally accepted appraisal a century ago of notable persons in London.1 "The two best-known men in London were George the Fourth and Sir Astley Cooper."
The Cooper family was well educated, well-to-do, and highly respected. Medicine was a rightful inheritance to Astley. His paternal grandfather was a surgeon in Norwich; Uncle William, a surgeon at Guy's Hospital. The father, a Doctor of Divinity and wrangler, was a stern disciplinarian in the Church and at home. The mother, a lady of property and a writer of semi-religious