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Sir Charles Bell

Sir Charles Bell (1774-1842)

SIR CHARLES BELL (1774-1842) was one of six children of the Reverend William Bell, a clergyman of the Episcopal Church of Scotland. He and his brother John, a well-known surgeon and anatomist in Edinburgh, were both accomplished artists. In 1799 Charles was admitted to the Royal College of Surgeons, and in 1806 moved to London, where he taught anatomy at the Great Windmill Street School. In 1836 he became professor of surgery at Edinburgh.

Bell was the author of many distinguished medical works, and has been credited with the discovery that the posterior roots of the spinal cord have a sensory function. However, some give François Magendie credit for this discovery. Bell demonstrated that the fifth facial nerve is both sensory and motor in function, and that a lesion of the VIIth facial nerve produces paralysis of the face, hence the eponym, "Bell's Palsy".

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