Manchester Medical Collection: Biographical Files A-G

  • Reference
      GB 133 MMC/2a
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
      English unless otherwise stated.
  • Physical Description
      MMC/2 comprises 5133 items containing approximately 17, 450 pieces in total [each item or file corresponds to one individual].

Scope and Content

MMC/2 contains files of biographical information about individuals connected with medicine in Manchester. Files include published material such as obituaries (from medical journals and national newspapers) and biographical articles, together with application forms for medical posts,, photographs, and manuscript notes written by Leech, William Brockbank and others.

It is clear from the material accumulated that Bosdin Leech had a particular collecting strategy. By the time of his death, material had been accumulated for several thousand individuals.

Leech's criteria for inclusion in the files appears to have been broad. Individuals had Manchester connections either through medical education or as the locus of their professional practice. Leech went back to the early modern period to discover the identities of Manchester medics, using a variety of printed antiquarian and historical sources. Individuals from the North West region without specific Manchester connections were filed in the 'E' section of the Collection, which is now known as MMC/4. However Leech appears to have segregated these individuals from their Manchester counterparts only for the period up to the early nineteenth century, after this non-Manchester medical practitioners are included in the biographical files, although Leech did not seek to cover this category exhaustively.

Although we cannot be entirely sure how comprehensive Leech envisaged the scope of the files, he does appear to have gathered information on the majority of medical practitioners in the Manchester and Salford areas in the nineteenth century. Understandably, he was able to gather more material for the honorary staff in the city's leading hospitals (MRI, St Mary's, Royal Eye and Salford Royal) and correspondingly less for local general practitioners. Leech also tried to track those individuals who had received their medical education at Manchester (mainly Manchester Royal School of Medicine and Owens College Medical School, later the University of Manchester Medical School) but practised elsewhere in the country. In dealing with his contemporaries, Leech now had more individuals to consider, and his sources of information were moe restricted than they had been for the major figures in the nineteenth century Manchester medical establishment.

For eighteenth and nineteenth century medics Leech used a fairly broad range of sources. He was assisted by a number of published historical works published by local antiquarian societies, memoirs, biographies and histories of local hospitals and other books about Manchester. Leech made brief notes about references to individuals in these books. He also studied educational records such as the register of Manchester Royal School of Medicine (1847-1855), the minutes of the Infirmary Board, and records of Owens College to garner basic information about their education.

The following genres of document have been used most frequently in this series:

Medical Directory entries. The Directory is published annually and covers all medical practitioners registered in the UK; in effect, a Who's who for doctors. Typically entries will include information on each individual's education and qualifications, medical positions and offices held, publications and an address for communication. Early editions of the Directory contained only summary education about education and professional positions, but by the late nineteenth century, the basic format of information WSW established, and it has changed relatively little since that time. The Directory entry is a good basic source of information and Leech systematically scoured the Directoriesof 1847, 1869 and 1927 for practitioners with a Manchester connection, and appears to have tracked down every significant Manchester medic for those years. The Directory continues to be one of our main sources for updating our biographical files. Since Leech's time, MD entries have been added for individuals usually from the start of a decade in which their career was its peak (e.g. 1970, 1980, 1990).

Another important source of biographical data has been added more recently; the biographical forms of the Manchester Medical Society. The Society, founded in 1834, is the most significant medical association in the Manchester region, and currently has several thousand members. In the 1960s, the Society began a policy of issuing biographical forms for its members to fill in. Forms have been issued in 1965, 1973, 1983, the early 1990s and the early 2000s. Members have supplied information about their education, professional positions, publications and other matters of interest. The information in the forms is generally more detailed than in the Medical Directory entries, and some have included detailed curriculum vitae with their forms.

Application letters and forms for medical posts are present for some entries. The most useful and informative of these are the printed application letters with testimonials submitted for honorary and assistant honorary posts at the voluntary hospitals in Manchester (mainly MRI). Later application letters from the NHS period (1950s-1960s) are mostly for house and registrar posts and are correspondingly less informative. These have only been retained where they contain information on dates of birth, education and publications of the individual, which is not readily available elsewhere.

Leech made a huge number of notes from a variety of sources. He annotated the minute books of the MRI's weekly, quarterly and medical boards for information about specific individuals, particularly relating to medical education and junior doctor appointments; these are described as 'Holograph notes. MRI minutes'. [The original minutes are retained by the MRI]. Also significant are cuttings books of the MRI, which Leech annotated in detail for information about the hospital, and its place in Manchester's medical, social and political life. Of particular interest are notes he made about the 'rebuilding controversy' of the late nineteenth when the local medical community divided over whether a new Infirmary should be built at Piccadilly or the Stanley Grove site, near Owens College in the Oxford Road [the new Infirmary opened at this site in 1908]. The cuttings books contained information about the allegiances of local doctors in this dispute, and Leech recorded this for their biographical files. His volume of notes from the cuttings book is kept as part of a sub-section on the rebuilding controversy (MMC/9/6/11/13), and he made notes for each medical practitioner who is mentioned in this volume, so cross-referral from the biographical file to the notebook is possible; such entries are described as 'Holograph note, MRI cuttings book'.

Leech's other notes were sourced from a selection of published sources including: 

  • William Axon, The annals of Manchester: a chronological record from the earliest times to the end of 1885 (London 1886), (abbreviated as Axon, Annals).
  • T. Swindells, Manchester streets and Manchester men, 5 vols. (Manchester 1906-8), (abbreviated as Swindells, Manchester men).
  • J.T. Slugg, Reminiscences of Manchester fifty years ago (Manchester 1881), (abbreviated as Slugg, Reminiscences).
  • Willliam Whellan, A new alphabetical and classified directory of Manchester and Salford, Bolton, Bury... (Manchester 1853), (abbreviated Whellan, Directory).
  • Edward Baines, History, directory and gazetteer of the County Palatine of Lancaster, 2 volumes, (1824-5), (abbreviated as Baines, Directory).
  • James Wheeler, Manchester: its political, social and commercial history, ancient and modern (London 1836), (abbreviated as Wheeler, Manchester).
  • Frank Renaud, A short history of the rise and progress of the Manchester Royal Infirmary (Manchester 1898), (abbreviated as Renaud, MRI).
  • Edward Mansfield Brockbank Sketches of the lives and work of the honorary medical staff of the Manchester Royal Infirmary (Manchester 1904), (abbreviated as Brockbank, Lives and work honorary medical staff of MRI).
  • William Brockbank, The honorary medical staff of the Manchester Royal Infirmary, 1830-1948 (Manchester 1965), (abbreviated as Brockbank, Honorary medical staff of MRI).
  • Anon., Memoir of Thomas Turner Esq. FRCS FLS (London 1875), (abbreviated as Memoir Turner).
  • F.W. Jordan, Life of Joseph Jordan (Manchester and London 1904), (abbreviated as Jordan, Jordan).
  • J.P.Earwaker (ed.), Local gleanings relating to Lancashire and Cheshire 2 volumes, (Manchester 1875-8), (abbreviated asLocal gleanings).
  • Jeremiah Smith (ed.), The admission register of the Manchester School [1730-1837]4 volumes, (Manchester 1866-74), contains biographical notes about significant former pupils of the Manchester Grammar School (abbreviated as Manchester School Register.
  • The Palatine Note-book: for the intercommunication of antiquaries, bibliophiles, and other investigators into the history and literature of the counties of Lancaster, Chester..5 volumes (Manchester 1881-5), (abbreviated asPalatine Note Book).
  • John Reilly, History of Manchester (Manchester 1861), (abbreviated as Reilly, Manchester).
  • John Webster Bride, A short history of St. Mary's Hospitals Manchester and the honorary medical staff: from the foundation in 1790 to 1922 (Manchester 1924) (Abbreviated to Bride, History of St Mary's)

Leech also researched the parish records of churches in central Manchester, such as the Collegiate Church (St Mary's, now Manchester Cathedral) and St. John's Church (now demolished) for information pertaining to baptisms, marriages and burials of Manchester medics and their families. Other information was gleaned from such sources as the 'Notes and Queries' column in the local newspaper, Manchester City News, which provided some of the more arcane antiquarian detail accumulated by Leech.

Newspapers were a particularly valuable source for the Collection. One of the most important sources was obituary notices from the British Medical Journal and the Lancet, occasionally supplemented by notices in more specialised medical journals. These journals began to publish quite detailed obituaries from the 1890s. Since the 1990s, the medical journals have generally reduced their obituary coverage, although brief obituary notices are still published by the BMJ and Lancet. Obituaries were also collected from national newspapers, especially the Manchester Guardian, which being published locally was a good source of information on Manchester doctors.The dedication of Leech to picking up snippets of information about his quarry is confirmed by the inclusion of notices relating to their marriage, birth of children, marriage of children, deaths and publication of their wills from local newspapers. Another valuable source of information was Manchester University Medical Students Gazette, published by medical students at Manchester University from the 1920s, and included articles by and about individual medical students and their teachers. Leech also acquired printed letters of application and testimonials from doctors in their application for posts (house, resident and honorary) at local hospitals, mostly the MRI, which as a member of staff at the latter he was in an ideal position to gather. An earlier version of the Gazette, known as Manchester Medical Students Gazette was published from 1901 to 1913.

There is also evidence in the files that Leech tried, often unsuccessfully, to acquire archive material such as correspondence of these individuals to include in the files. In fact, very little of such primary source material is included in the Collection; there are a few letters, notebooks and cuttings books, but these are not a significant source.However, Leech's and William Brockbank's correspondence concerning their search for material does contain some interesting snippets. Brockbank's correspondence in connection with his research for Lives of the honorary staff of the MRI contains some illuminating and occasionally amusing comments on senior Manchester medical figures by their former colleagues.

Leech's successors obviously were not able to devote the same amount of time to maintaining the files. However, they have added a considerable of body of data to the collection. Apart from MD entries and published obituaries, valuable information has been provided by the biographical forms of members of the Manchester Medical Society. From the early 1970s, fellows of the Society were encouraged to submit potted biographies of their professional positions and achievements to the Society, with the understanding that these would be filed in the MMC. This data continues to be added to the Collection. Further information has been gathered from University publications such as the now-defunct University of Manchester Gazette and This week, next week (formerly This weekand known as Unilife from February 2004 ), which publishes articles about medical academics at the University. where possible, UML has sought to acquire curriculum vitae from senior Manchester medical practitioners (mostly those holding chairs at the University).

The files contain a considerable number of photographs. Many of these are nineteenth century carte de visite photographs, apparently collected by Leech. For the later period, there are a number of cutting photographs from MRI group portraits or student groups. Leech made notes for the biographical files of individuals appearing in photos in other parts of the Collection; these are mostly student group portraits from the 1890s and 1900s (MMC/5/9/4).

Administrative / Biographical History

The Manchester Medical Collection is a unique body of archive materials relating to the history of medicine in the Manchester area. The Collection was the creation of Ernest Bosdin Leech, a honorary physician at the Manchester Royal Infirmary and a keen local historian. Leech conceived of the Collection as a means of bringing together material on all aspects of Manchester's medical history into a single resource for researchers. The Collection was begun in the days before the existence of proper archive repositories, and Leech saw the need to salvage material before it was lost to posterity. At the centenary meeting of the Manchester Medical Society on 3 October 1934, Leech announced in his presidential speech that he was donating the collection to the Library:

"Some 25 years ago I began to collect everything I could find relating to Manchester medicine in the wider sense. ... The collection contains books by Manchester medical men, both medical and literary, and about Manchester medical men, also pamphlets by them, and also any biographical notes I have been able to find. I can at least say of the collection that I don't know of any town that has a similar one."

(Manchester Medical Society Archive, Manchester Medical Society /1/11/3/10).

Leech's collecting strategy was eclectic: he aimed to gather together material on a variety of different subject areas using a diversity of sources. The Collection has material about the lives and writing of Manchester doctors, there are documents concerning the professional societies these doctors belonged to, local hospitals and medical charities, medical education in the city in the medical schools and at the University, material on specific subjects such as public health, diseases, nursing, medical insurance, and significant incidents in local medical history. The Collection has the outward appearance of an accumulation of research material for a major study of local medical history, but there is no evidence that Leech intended to write this. Rather he wished it to be used as a resource for others. Although Leech died in 1950, the Collection has been added to (on a more modest scale) up to the present day. The biographical files have been continuously updated. For a period, the publications files were also updated, given the massive expansion of articles and notices published in the specialist medical press it is no longer considered feasible or necessary to do this. In other areas, the development of dedicated archive facilities in the Manchester area has meant collections like the MMC were no longer as necessary for salvaging material.

The MMC was evidently a labour of love for Leech. The extent of the collection is witness to long hours he spent acquiring material, annotating published material and scouring newspapers and medical directories for snippets of information about his medical counterparts. Leech was a well-read antiquarian historian, and he used the publications of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society and Chetham's Society to locate a wealth of interesting and arcane information to add to the Collection. He also went to the original sources and noted down information of interest, including information in the minute books of the MRI from the 1750s to the 1930s. The result was a series of small notelets in his distinctive hand, identifying references for scholars to undertake follow-up research. Although Leech never published a magnum opus on Manchester medicine, he did publish several monographs, Medicine in the provinces of England, Picturesque episodes of Manchester medical history, and Early medicine and quackery in Lancashire.

A sociable man, Leech's connections with local medical societies ensured that he was able to acquire and preserve their archives. He was an active member of the Manchester Medical Society, serving on its library committee and was president in its centenary year 1933-4. The Society's archive was originally part of the Collection (although it is now treated as a discrete collection). Through his connections, Leech was able to acquire the records of a number of smaller societies like the Manchester Therapeutic Club and the Clinique. Leech was assisted by other local medical historians in his work, in particular Edward Mansfield Brockbank (1866-1959), a cardiologist at the MRI, who published histories of the MRI honorary staff, Cheadle Royal Hospital, the official history of Manchester Medical Society and The foundation of provincial medical education in England(1936). Like Leech, Brockbank was president of the Manchester Medical Society and long-standing member of its library committee which he chaired from 1906-1951. His son, William Brockbank (1900-1984) looked after the MMC following Leech's death, and added a good deal of valuable material. Medical librarians of the JRUL have also added material to the Collection.

When the Collection was catalogued between 2002-2004, a decision was made to restrict the acquisition of new material. In some areas such as the biographical files, it is considered desirable to continue updating this material as it is a unique and valuable resource for researchers. In other areas, particularly the medical subject areas, it is not really possible to devise a collecting brief which accurately reflects the intentions of the creator of the Collection. . In many cases, material 'salvaged' by Brockbank and Leech is now collected in a systematic manner by local libraries and archives. The idiosyncrasies and enthusiasm of Leech the collector should be respected by accurately representing what he did collect through the catalogues rather than attempting to emulate his unique enterprise.


Arranged alphabetically by individual. The reference code has been created to facilitate inclusion of new data. The identifier for each file is the individual's surname, together with initials at the end of the surname, if individuals share a surname in the collection e.g. MMC/2/SmithJo and MMC/2/SmithJG for Joseph Smith and Joseph George Smith respectively. The body of material for each individual is described as a "file", although in some cases it may contain no more than one or two documents. In the case of well-known individuals there may be over 70 documents in a file, divided into several folders.


MD- MD directory

Obit - obituary [source]

ND - notice of death

NA - notice of appointment

The on-line finding aid for the MMC has had to be divided into several files because of its size. A collection-level description MMC provides an oversight of the collection as a whole. Also available are the Publications files: MMC/1 A-GMMC/1 H-Q and MMC/1 R-Z.he other Biographical files: MMC/2 H-Q and MMC/ 2 R-Z. The remaining sections of the Collection can be found at MMC/3-16.

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

The collection includes material which is subject to the Data Protection Act 2018. The University of Manchester Library (UML) holds the right to process personal data for research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, UML has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately. Users of the archive are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 2018, and will be required to sign a form acknowledging that they will abide by the requirements of the Act in any further processing of the material by themselves.

Open parts of this collection, and the catalogue descriptions, may contain personal data about living individuals. Some items in this collection may be closed to public inspection in line with the requirements of the DPA. Restrictions/closures of specific items will be indicated in the catalogue.

Other Finding Aids

None. This finding aid supersedes the original classification scheme drawn up by Bosdin Leech (see MMC/16/1).

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PP.

Custodial History

The collection was begun by Ernest Bosdin Leech. He donated it to the University Library in 1934 at the centenary meeting of the Manchester Medical Society . At the time the MMC comprised around 775 books and 110 boxes of papers. Leech continued to manage the Collection until his death. The Collection has since been maintained and developed by members of staff of the Library, with the assistance of Dr William Brockbank (1900-1984) who was Honorary Medical Archivist. The medical book collection is now administered independently of the MMC and forms part of the book stock of the University Library.

All material incorporated into the MMC is received as a gift. The collection is owned by the University of Manchester.