The Story of Dr Mariano Alejo Martin de Bartolomé might be straight from the pages of a novel.
Bartolomé (1813-1890) was born in Segovia, Spain, and came from an old Castilian Hidalgo family, his father being the civil governor of the province.
Aged 8, he became a student at the Artillery College of the Alcazar of Segovia and had lined up a commission in the Hussars. However, Spain was in a state of revolution and the representative system was abolished. Ferdinand VII was restored by the intervention of the French, and the Bartolomé’s were driven out of Spain and their estate confiscated.
They sought refuge in England, eventually taking up residence in Jersey.
It was here that Bartolomé met Mary Elizabeth Parker, the daughter of Rev Frank Parker of Dore, and they married in 1834. He had no profession, but Mary paid for him to become a medical student at Edinburgh University.
Bartolomé studied under Professor Sir Robert Christison, regarded as a brilliant physician and chemist, and gained his medical degree in 1838.
The couple moved to Sheffield taking up residence at 3 Eyre Street, popular with surgeons and physicians, and remained here for 45 years.
In 1840 Bartolomé was elected one of the honorary physicians to the Sheffield Hospital and Dispensary (later the Royal Hospital) and in 1846 joined the Sheffield Infirmary, later becoming senior physician. It was said that he rode there on a fine black horse and to have jumped the gate when he found it closed. By the time he retired through ill-health in 1889 it was estimated that Bartolomé had treated more than 750,000 patients.
In 1846, Bartolomé joined the staff of lecturers at the Sheffield Medical Institution, later the Medical School, delivering over 3,000 lectures and becoming its president.
As president he was instrumental in obtaining funds to build a new building in Leopold Street, finished in 1888, and after merging with Firth College and Sheffield Technical School it was renamed University College Sheffield before becoming University of Sheffield in 1905.
His crowning glory was in 1876 when he was elected president of the British Medical Association (BMA) at a meeting in Sheffield. His presidential address was an exhaustive description of Sheffield, its surroundings, some of its trades, their effects on the health of workers, and suggestions as to future legislation.
Bartolomé was painted by artist Bernard Edward Cammell which was presented to him by the Medical School in November 1888.
“I came amongst you as a stranger and an alien, but you stretched out the right hand of friendship towards me, and I stand before you now one of the oldest Englishmen in the room, having been naturalised long before the majority of you were in existence.
“I wish that my portrait may remain in the midst of its givers – those friends whom I have so sincerely and frequently loved.”
Bartolomé moved his house and surgery to Glossop Road in the 1880s, the building on the corner with Hounsfield Road better known now as The Harley bar.
As well as his medical work, Bartolomé was a freemason at the Britannia and Brunswick Lodges (and laid the foundation stone at the Masonic Hall in Surrey Street) and was founder and president of Sheffield Athenaeum club.
In his last few years Bartolomé suffered from heart problems and was forced to give up a lot of work. In 1890, after waking, he attended his invalid son in an adjoining room and died soon after, supposedly “brought on by dressing somewhat hastily in order that he might visit his son.”
His wife, Mary, died in 1863, and Bartolomé married a second time, Mary Emily Jackson, the daughter of Samuel Jackson, who survived him.
After his death, Bartolomé’s family left the city, but his grandson, Dr Stephen M de Bartolomé (1919-2001), a former Sheffield University student returned to Sheffield to work for Spear & Jackson of which he became chairman.
The Bartolomé Papers – a collection relating to the history of the family through both Bartolomés – is held at the University of Sheffield. As a fitting tribute the former Winter Street Hospital (and then St George’s Hospital) became the School of Nursing for the University of Sheffield in 1997, named Bartolomé House in 1998 after Dr Mariano Martin de Bartolomé, and now the School of Law.
© 2020 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.