John Marshall Papers

Scope and Content

Ms and printed material relating to relating to John Marshall, Professor of Surgery at Unviersity College, including anatomical drawings etc. for an article 'On the development of the great interior veins in man and mammalia' in 'Philosophical Transactions' (1850), c1840-c1891.

Administrative / Biographical History

Marshall, John (1818-1891), surgeon and teacher of anatomy, was born on 11 September 1818 at Ely, Cambridgeshire, the second son and third child of solicitor William Marshall (1776-1842) and his second wife, Ann Cropley (c1793-1861), also of Ely.

He received his schooling in Hingham, Norfolk, and was then apprenticed to a Mr Wales, a surgeon and general practitioner in Wisbech. In 1838 he enrolled in University College, London, winning a gold medal in physiology under William Sharpey, and becoming a private assistant to the surgeon Robert Liston. He also obtained the post (1842) of curator of the anatomy museum, which was followed in 1845 by a demonstratorship in anatomy. He assisted Richard Quain in producing the 1848 edition of 'Elements of Anatomy' ('Quain's Anatomy', the early editions having been written by Jones Quain, Richard Quain's brother).

In 1844 Marshall set up in practice in Mornington Crescent, where he befriended Ford Madox Brown, the first of a number of artists who became his friends and patients. In the same year he became MRCS, and the fellowship in the Royal College of Surgeons followed in 1849. By then he was an assistant surgeon (1847) at University College Hospital. He was subsequently full surgeon and in 1866 he succeeded Eric Erichsen to the chair in surgery, a post for which Joseph Lister also applied. Marshall, who was elected FRS in 1857, retired from University College Hospital and the Brompton Hospital, where he was also surgeon, in 1884. On 12 October 1854 he married Ellen Rogers (1831-1919), daughter of Charles Williams (1792-1865), with whom he had two sons and two daughters.

Marshall pioneered the surgical excision of varicose veins and was an early advocate of Listerian antisepsis. His most successful publications were intended for more general audiences. 'A Description of the Human Body' (1860, 4th edn, 1882) summarized anatomy and physiology for schoolteachers and their pupils, especially those intending to study medicine. 'Outlines of Physiology: Human and Comparative' (1867) was aimed at medical students, but its morphological approach was soon superseded by the newer experimental physiology. 'Anatomy for Artists' (1878, 3rd edn, 1890) grew out of his interest in artistic anatomy, a subject he taught at the government school, first at Marlborough House, and then at South Kensington.

He became professor of anatomy at the Royal Academy in 1873, his candidacy being supported by one of his patients, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. He lectured on artistic anatomy to classes of men and women, and also pioneered the teaching of physiology at University College, London, to mixed classes. Consistent with his liberal principles, he encouraged his daughters to attend classes at University College, London.

Marshall served on the councils of the Royal Society and the Royal College of Surgeons, whose president he became in 1883. He was also an experienced examiner, both for the University of London and the Royal College of Surgeons. He sat for many years on the General Medical Council and was its president at the time of his death. He played a role in the introduction of the 'Conjoint exam' in 1886, administered jointly by the royal colleges of physicians and surgeons, and aimed at giving general practitioners broadly based medical and surgical qualifications (LRCP and MRCS).

He died at his home, Belle Vue House, 92 Cheyne Walk, probably from bronchopneumonia, on New Year's Day 1891.

Access Information


The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking.

Acquisition Information

Given to the library by Professor H Butler of the University of Saskatchewan. He was given the papers by Professor H A Harris of Cambridge.

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