BS BSc MD Lond; FRCS Eng
Thorburn was born 7 April 1861 in Manchester, the son of John Thorburn (see above). He was educated at Owens College and London, and graduated in 1884 with the University of London medical degree. He received the MD a year later, and was appointed FRCS in 1886. He joined MRI as a house surgeon, where he was influenced by the neurologist, James Ross. He was appointed honorary assistant surgeon at the Infirmary in 1889, and became a full surgeon in 1900.
Thorburn's reputation was in nerve surgery, particularly relating the nerves of the spinal column. He was Hunterian Professor in 1894, where he gave a series of lectures on spinal injuries. He was professor of clinical surgery at the University of Manchester, and sat on the Council of the University. Thorburn was also president of the Manchester Medical Society. At the outbreak of war in 1914, he was given command of the 2nd Western General Hospital. He retired from the MRI in 1921.