The son of a Leeds bookseller, Heaton was educated at Leeds Grammar School, Leeds School of Medicine, and University College, London. As a student he won many prizes, including the gold medal in medicine and the Fellowes gold medal for clinical medicine at University College and the silver medal awarded by the Apothecaries’ Company for botany. He graduated as M.B. in 1841. In 1842 he undertook a long Continental tour, in which he visited the Paris medical schools. On his return to Leeds, he was quick to establish himself as one of the city’s leading practitioners. He was lecturer successively on botany, materia medica, and the practice of medicine at the Medical School. He became treasurer to the School and three times held the office of president. He was elected physician to the Dispensary and the Fever Hospital. Having resigned these posts, he was elected physician to the Leeds General Infirmary in 1850 and succeeded to the position of senior physician twenty-one years later. Another hospital appointment held by Heaton was that of consulting physician to the Leeds Hospital for Women and Children. In 1849 University College elected him to a medical fellowship.
Heaton’s interests were not confined to the professional sphere. He was active as a J.P. and as the upholder of many local societies and institutions. He was among the keenest supporters of the Leeds Improvement Society, and of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, for which he acted as president for four years. He was also chairman of the Committee of the Yorkshire Board of Education and a member of his city’s first School Board. Perhaps his outstanding achievement was the foundation of the Yorkshire College for the Promotion of Science and Literature; in acknowledgement of his services to the College, the Clothworkers’ Company of the City of London made him an honorary member.
G H Brown
[Lancet, 1880; B.M.J., 1880]