Samuel Bardsley

Scope and Content

This commonplace book is the only manuscript of Bardsley's known to survive and whilst it does not focus entirely on medical matters it gives a good insight into some of the medical issues that interested him as a well known Tory in the wider political, economic, and social context of the 19th century. He touches upon and offers opinions on a variety of highly pertinent topics of the time such as the Corn Laws and political reform. Analysed alongside some of his published works and items of correspondence held in other archives it is possible to build a bigger picture of Bardsley as a prominent 19th century medical man.

Administrative / Biographical History

Samuel Argent Bardsley (1764-1850) was born on 27 April 1764 at Kelvedon, Essex and was the son of James Bardsley and his wife Felicia Stephana Browne. He began his medical education in Nottingham as an apprentice to a surgeon apothecary, Benjamin Maddock. From there he proceeded to London, Edinburgh, and Leiden where he took his MD in 1789. He spent a short time practising in Doncaster, South Yorkshire before he came to Manchester in 1790 where he took up the role of honorary physician to the Manchester Royal Infirmary and was promptly elected to the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society. He acted as the Society's secretary from 1793 to 1796 and as their vice-president from 1797 to 1808 and contributed a number of papers.

From the beginning of his time in Manchester, Bardsley played a prominent role in the city's medical establishment and was involved in campaigns for the formation of a Board of Health for Manchester (of which he later became a member), the passing of proper factory laws, and the creation of fever hospitals. He had been an active supporter of the Chorlton-on-Medlock Infirmary from its foundation in 1826 and was also involved with the Royal Institution where he regularly attended meetings and lectures even after his retirement. His main medical publication was entitled Medical Reports of Cases and Experiments, with Observations Chiefly Derived from Hospital Practice: to which are added, an enquiry into the origin of canine madness and thoughts on a plan for its extirpation from the British Isles (London, 1807), which contains essays on chronic rheumatism, diabetes mellitus, and the effects of galvanism in paralysis.

Bardsley resigned his position from the Infirmary in 1823 and in his resignation expressly nominated his nephew James Lomax Bardsley (1801-1876) for the resultant vacancy, and he was duly elected. Subsequent to his resignation Bardsley was nominated physician extraordinary. From 1794 Bardsley lived in Chatham Street from where he also ran his private practice but left the premises in 1827 when his nephew took over the property and practice and moved to Ardwick Green. However, he still continued to practise and is listed in the 1847 directory as working at Gore Street, Greenheys alongside his nephew who was practising at both locations.

Bardsley had married the daughter of Richard Coupland of Omskirk in 1893 and she predeceased him, dying at their home in Ardwick Green on 18 March 1842. He himself died some years later on the 28 May 1850 whilst visiting a friend in Hastings, Sussex and was buried at St Saviour's Church, Manchester.

Related Material

Held with the records of the Home Office at the National Archives, Kew is a letter from Bardsley proposing the introduction of a period of quarantine for all dogs in order to control hydrophobia, 1830, (HO 44/20/27).

Sheffield City Archives also hold two letters sent by Bardsley to William Wentworth-Fitzwilliam, 4th Earl Fitzwilliam (1748-1833) in the aftermath of the Peterloo Massacre vindicating the magistrates and yeoman cavalry, (WWM/F/52/48-51).

Manchester Archives and Local Studies hold a letter from the Royal Manchester Institution to Bardsley thanking him for his paper at a Conversazione, 1843 (M6/1/49/3/p141) and one from the Royal Manchester Institution to the executors of the late S.A. Bardsley about his share, 1850 (M6/1/49/5/p182).


E.M. Brockbank, Sketches of the lives and work of the honrary medical staff of the Manchester Infirmary Manchester 1904. Stella Butler, 'Bardsley, Samuel Argent (1764-1850)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Oxford University Press, 2004.