Born on 6 October 1707, the son of the apothecary Thomas Falkner (d 1741). Falkner went to London and studied under Dr Richard Mead, a well known physician, before practising in Manchester. Around 1730 he was advised to take a sea trip for health reasons and was appointed surgeon on a ship of the South Sea Company, which would be conveying slaves from Guinea to Buenos Aires. Falkner also carried a commission from the Royal Society to study medicinal properties of American herbs. Falkner entered the Jesuit province of Paraguay in 1732 and was ordained priest in 1739. Falkner combined his missionary and medical activities until the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767. His description of Patagonia was published in 1774 without his knowledge. Falconer died in 1784.