Journal Mobile

A Barry Kay
Journal Issue: 
Volume 49: Issue 1: 2019



Thomas Wharton Jones (1808–91), described as a ‘genius’ by his famous pupil Thomas Henry Huxley, was an Edinburgh medical graduate. At the age of 19 years he was appointed anatomy demonstrator to the infamous Dr Robert Knox so unwittingly becoming caught up in the Burke and Hare scandal. Escaping to Glasgow, and then to Cork and London, Jones eventually became an outstanding physiologist and ophthalmologist. His seminal observations included scholarly treatises on the vasculature in inflammation together with descriptions of the contractile movement of white blood cells, as well as studies on regeneration and repair, astigmatism and retinitis pigmentosa. He was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1840. One of his seminal contributions was his detailed description of ‘granular cells’ in the blood of a large number of animal species, including man. His illustrations suggest strongly these were eosinophils, predating Paul Erhlich’s definitive studies (using aniline dyes) by 33 years. In later life he was found destitute in his London home and ‘rescued’ by friends and colleagues. William Gladstone was persuaded to give Jones a civil list pension. He lived out the rest of his life in Ventnor on the Isle of Wight.