Winstanley was originally intended for the Unitarian ministry and studied at Manchester College. From 1798-1803 he was minister to the Unitarian church at Derby. He then decided to enter the medical profession, and studied at Edinburgh University. In 1806 he took the MD and settled in Manchester. From 1808-1817 he was honorary physician at the Manchester Infirmary. He retired from the hospital in 1817 and later lived near Liverpool. While at the Infirmary he gave evidence to a Parliamentary Committee about the effects of long hours of work on the health of children employed in cotton factories.
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