Edward Greenhow was born at North Shields where both his father and grandfather had practised medicine. He received his medical education at Edinburgh and Montpellier and, entering into partnership with his father, practised in North Shields and Tynemouth for eighteen years. As chairman of the Board of Health at Tynemouth, he did much to improve the town’s sanitation and drainage. At the age of thirty-nine he went to London, having graduated as M.D. at Aberdeen, and in 1855 became lecturer on public health at St. Thomas’s Hospital and physician to the Western General Dispensary. He was also employed by the Board of Health and the Privy Council. Much of his pioneer work on the causes of mortality and their classification was embodied in the administrative reforms ushered in by the Public Health Act of 1858. He never lost, however, his interest in clinical medicine and in 1861 joined the staff of the Middlesex Hospital as assistant physician, being appointed dean of the Medical School in 1868, physician in 1870, lecturer on medicine in 1871, and later treasurer and chairman.
In addition to his work at the Middlesex Hospital — afterwards commemorated in the name of one of its wards — and his considerable private practice, he found time to serve on various Royal Commissions and was appointed examining physician to the Pensions Commutation Board as well as visitor under the Privy Council to the examinations of the Pharmaceutical Society. He was Croonian Lecturer in 1875 and a Censor at the Royal College of Physicians. For his scientific work, both in medicine and sanitary science, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society, and he can be legitimately included among the founders of industrial medicine. He was a persevering if slightly pompous teacher and an excellent man of business. Greenhow married, first in 1842 the widow of William Barnard, by whom he had one son, and, secondly, in 1862 Eliza Burnley, daughter of Joseph Hume, M.P., by whom he had two daughters. He retired to Reigate in 1881, but died in London.
G H Brown
[Lancet, 1888; B.M.J., 1888; D.N.B., xxiii, 81]