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Septimus William Sibley was born in Great Ormond Street, London, in 1831. He was the son of Robert Sibley, architect and Surveyor to the County of Middlesex, and a brother of George Sibley, a well-known civil engineer. He distinguished himself in mathematics at University College School and expected to follow mathematics in later life, but this was not to be and he went on to study medicine at the Middlesex and University College Hospitals.

One of his first appointments was as medical registrar at the Middlesex Hospital, where he played a leading part in managing the cholera epidemic of 1854 that was centred on the Broad Street pump. More staff were urgently needed to handle the flow of patients, and one of those responding to Dr Sibley's appeal was Florence Nightingale.

He had a distinguished career in medicine, holding many prestigious appointments in hospitals, on medical committees and on the councils of the Royal College of Surgeons and the British Medical Association, where he was the first to represent the interests of general practitioners. Personally he was noted for his courtesy, gentleness and conciliation abilities, and became highly respected in his profession.

He died on 15 March 1893 at his country house, The Hermitage, White Hill, Bletchingley, Surrey.

[Sources: Dictionary of National Biography, quoted by the Royal College of Surgeons; Sandra Hempel, "The Strange Case of the Broad Street Pump", 2007]

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