MRCS 1784; MD Leyden 1792; 1819 LRCP.
Hull was the oldest son of John Hull (1725?-1768), an apothecary and surgeon in Poulton-le-Fylde. He was born on 30 September 1761 and was orphaned at the age of six. When he was sixteen Hull was apprenticed to Mr Lancaster, a Blackburn surgeon, man midwife and apothecary, and Hull began to attend lying-in cases. After finishing his apprenticeship, Hull went to London to qualify with the Corporation of Surgeons. He raised the fees for taking the diploma by selling a copy of his lecture notes. In 1784, after qualifying, Hull returned to Blackburn and the next year went into partnership with Dr Lancaster. So successful was Hull that he was soon able to buy the practice and in 1791 married a sister of Dr William Winstanley. Early on in his career Hull specialized in midwifery, he delivered quintuplets which he preserved in spirit and are now at the Hunterian Museum. Hull was ambitious to develop his career and, as there was no Lying-in Hospital in Blackburn, he went to Manchester in 1796.
Shortly after arriving in Manchester, Hull became involved in a controversy about caesarean section. Hull believed that caesareans were sometimes necessary and useful and he was supported in this view by the staff of the Lying-in Hospital. However, the staff of MRI, and in particular, William Simmons, thought that caesarean sections were dangerous and of no use. Simmons published a work attacking the operation, and Hull responded with Defence of the Caesarean Operation in 1798. Further publications ensued and the opinion in Manchester remained factionalised and the subject controversial. However, in the course of events, Hull had established his reputation as a significant surgeon and had established the necessity of caesarean section in certain abnormal conditions of the pelvis. In 1804, Hull joined the staff of the Lying-in Hospital, and in 1805 the senior post of physician was created and given to Hull, a post which he retained until his retirement in 1837. Hull supported the foundation of Royal Eye Hospital and the Lock Hospital and was on the staff of both hospitals. Also, while not lecturing at the Manchester medical schools, his support was useful in their efforts to gain official recognition.
Hull was also active in the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society. In 1800 he read a paper on the human nervous system, and he was co-secretary for many years. In 1809 Hull was elected president, however he stood down in favour of Thomas Henry who was re-elected. Hull was also well known as a botanist and from 1799 published a number of books on British Flora. Hull was elected first president of Manchester Medical Society when it was founded in 1834, and held office for four years, he was also a fellow of the Linnean Society. Unfortunately, age began to tell on Hull's mental capabilities, and he retired from practice in 1837 and returned to Poulton-le-Fylde. He later contracted a chill when he was visiting his son William in London. Bronchitis resulted and Hull died in London on 17 March 1843, and was buried in Poulton.