top of page

1847: Shelley shooting results in amputation

We have featured articles about the poet Shelley and his love of Cuckfield before.. But this rather tragic incident happened to his son - and probably took place near Worthing. with a Cuckfield surgeon attending..

On Monday last, as Sir Percy Byssche Shelley was shooting in the forest with Messrs. Thomas and Charles Tester, sons of his tenant, a rabbit started, and Mr C Tester stretched out his arm to point it out to his brother, who at the moment pulled the trigger, and the whole charge passed through the wrist of the poor young fellow, making a hole no larger than a bullet, but dreadfully lacerating the tendons.

Mr Smith, surgeon, of Crawley, was instantly sent for, and finding the serious state of the wound, called in Mr TS Brass, of Cuckfield. On consulting, the gentlemen saw plainly there was no alternative but amputation, which the patient underwent without a cry or groan, or exclamation of any sort, suffering like a hero.

On a former occasion, this unfortunate young man so much injured his left arm from the bursting of a gun, as to be obliged to have it taken off at the Brighton Hospital; and now being deprived of the right hand, he is rendered completely helpless.

The Evening Chronicle, 18 January 1847

This is not the poet Percy Byssche Shelley as he died in 1822 - so this was more likely to be Sir Percy Florence Shelley, 3rd Baronet (12 November 1819 – 5 December 1889). He was the son of the English poet and his second wife, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. He was also 3rd Baronet of Castle Goring (near Worthing). The poet was not a 'Sir'.

Photo: Surgical amputation set, 1870, UK. On display at the Thackray Medical Museum, Leeds.

Our stories about his father and his relationship with Cuckfield:

Contributed by Malcolm Davison.


bottom of page