George Northcroft (1868 – 1943)
George Northcroft obtained his first dental qualification from the University of Michigan in 1890. On his return to Britain he attended the London School of Dental Surgery, qualifying in 1892. He opened a practice in Harley Street, where he lived with his wife Baroness Eva von Schlotheim and their three children, George, Willian and Evelyn.
It was while studying in America that he developed an interest in orthodontics. In 1907 he invited a group of colleagues to his practice in Harley Street to discuss starting an orthodontic society. This led to the establishment of the British Society for the Study of Orthodontics. Northcroft was the Society’s president in 1909 and 1929. Northcroft was an active member of several other dental societies and was involved in dental politics, taking an active role in the negotiations for the 1921 Dentists Act, which limited dental practice to qualified dentists.
Northcroft’s work was widely respected. He was awarded an OBE in 1920 for his services to the treatment of jaw injuries during the First World War. He was one of the founders of the London Hospital Dental School and continued to work there for many years. It was through one of his colleagues at the hospital, Professor William Wright, the professor of Anatomy, that Northcroft became involved in the analysis of the bones from an urn thought to contain the bodies of the Princes of the Tower. The urn was opened at Northcroft’s practice on 6th July 1935 and the bones were radiographed and analysed.
Northcroft had an interest in the causes of malocclusion. He believed that an understanding of normal growth was needed before the causes of malocclusion could be understood. He studied the development of his children’s mouths continuously from childhood to adulthood, taking models of their faces and mouths, although only 12 of William’s models survive. They are one of the earliest longitudinal studies of three-dimensional facial growth.