John Windsor

Scope and Content

All of the manuscripts in this series have been created by Windsor himself and represent his medical studies and his professional work. The manuscripts of his student notes from both London and Edinburgh represent the typical journey individuals in England wanting to study medicine at this time would have taken. In turn the manuscripts created later in his career demonstrate his involvement in early medical education in Manchester and with local medical societies and equally the breadth of his practice.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Windsor (1787-1868) was born in Settle, North Yorkshire in 1787. He began his education at Giggleswick Grammar School and then became apprenticed to William Sutcliff, a surgeon in Settle. His medical studies eventually took him to London where he lived with William Allen from 1807-1811. During this time he attended Guy's and St Thomas' Hospitals and the lectures of Sir Astley Cooper, Henry Cline senior, and Henry Cline junior amongst others. He qualified in 1812 at which point he became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons and at the end of the 1811-1812 teaching session received a prize in anatomy and surgery from Cooper.

Partly driven by the importance he placed on clinical lectures and to further his medical knowledge and experience, Windsor spent the winter of 1812-1813 studying at Edinburgh University. There he attended the lectures of such notable individuals as James Gregory, Daniel Rutherford, James Hamilton, James Home, and Andrew Duncan the elder. In 1813 he returned to London where he acted as surgical clinical clerk to Sir Astley Cooper at Guy's Hospital alongside Dr Wallace of Dublin, during which time he continued to attend the lectures of Cooper, Abernethy, Haighton, and others as well as attend lectures at the London Eye Infirmary.

He left London in 1814 and spent a short time practising in Sheffield, South Yorkshire before eventually establishing himself in practise in Piccadilly, Manchester in June 1815. He was soon appointed as surgeon to the Institution for Curing Diseases of the Eye, later the Manchester Eye Hospital, and later in his career became senior surgeon. Windsor ran a busy private practice and is known for his egalitarian attitude whereby he would assist anyone who sought his help and is known to have been seeing patients right up to the day he died.

He continued to be active in professional societies in Manchester throughout his career and also lectured in medical jurisprudence, medical science, and midwifery at the Marsden Street Medical School in 1837 and subsequent years. From 1849 to 1858 he was treasurer of the Manchester Medical Society and acted as ex officio chairman of meetings as the office of president had been abolished in 1850. When the position was reinstated in 1859, Windsor was elected as the new president and was succeeded in 1860 by Samuel Crompton. He is also known to have read a number of papers before the society. As well as being involved with the Manchester Medical Society, Windsor was a member of the Manchester Medico-Ethical Society, but his resignation was forced in 1850 after he was found to be meeting in consultation with an unqualified man who was practising medicine. The events leading to his resignation played out in The Lancet (Vol.55 Issue 1399 pp.763-4).

Windsor published a number of papers during his lifetime, the majority relating to diseases of the eye, but also including works on botany, which was a subject of great interest to him. After having travelled to Paris in 1822 where he visited René Laennec (1781-1826) Windsor is credited as having first introduced the stethoscope to Manchester, and he himself commented that of those he brought back one was intended for his good friend John Hull. In 1844 he became an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. Windsor also features as a character in the fictional work A Manchester Man by Mrs Linnaeus Banks published in 1876.

Windsor was the father of Thomas Windsor (1831-1910), also a renowned surgeon and noted for his work as librarian for the Manchester Medical Society, as well as at least 8 other children, namely Margaret, Isabella, Elizabeth, Mary, John, James, William, and Joseph. John Windsor died at his home at 65 Piccadilly, Manchester on 1 September 1868 at the age of 81.


Windsor's manuscripts have been divided between those produced as a result of his medical education and those produced as a result of his working career.

  • MMM/4/1 - Student Notes
  • MMM/4/2 - Working Manuscripts

Related Material

There is a letter in Manchester Archives and Local Studies from the Royal Manchester Institution to the executors of John Windsor, 23 September 1868 (M6/1/49/7/p96).


Elwood & Tuxford Some Manchester Doctors Manchester 1984. Pigot & Dean's New Directory of Manchester, Salford Etc for 1821-2 (Manchester: R&W Dean, 1822). The Royal College of Surgeons of England 'Windsor, John (1787-1868)' Plarr's Lives of the Fellows Online 2013. Slater's Classified Directories of the Following Important English Towns: Birmingham, Bristol, Derby, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield, and West Bromwich 1847.