John Shepherd Fletcher

Scope and Content

The five manuscripts created by Fletcher originate from his time as a student in Manchester in the early 1840s. Of particular note is MMM/10/1 which records cases seen in the Manchester Royal Infirmary as part of clinical lecturing and describes a high proportion of industrial accidents at a time which coincides with Engels time in Manchester before he wrote The Condition of the Working Class in England. The copies of lectures he attended also represent some of the few known surviving copies of medical lectures in Manchester during this period from the likes of Thomas Turner, Richard Baron Howard, and Joseph Atkinson Ransome.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Shepherd Fletcher (1822-1882) was born in Prestwich in August 1822, and studied under his uncle Dr Ogden in Rochdale before attending the Royal Manchester School of Medicine and studying at the Manchester Royal Infirmary. As a student he gained several prizes in anatomy, surgery, midwifery, materia medica, and the anatomy and physiology of the eye in addition to a certificate of honour for regularity and good conduct and a clinical prize for the best reported surgical case in the Infirmary in 1844.

He became a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1846 and qualified LSA on 11 March 1847. In June of the same year he was appointed as medical officer to the Tib Street and Canal Street Workhouses by the Manchester Board of Guardians. He resigned his position at the Tib Street Workhouse just over a month later when it was being used to house fever patients, but continued his role at Canal Street. Around 1851 he joined the staff of the relatively new Chatham Street Medical School as a lecturer in anatomy along with his brother James Ogden Fletcher (1824-1874). He later became a certifying factory surgeon and was medical inspector of the factories in Ancoats, Manchester.

Fletcher ran a private practice from premises on Lever Street, Manchester and gained his M.D. from St Andrew's University later in his career in 1862. In 1875, Fletcher in conjunction with Alexander Hodgkinson (d.1928) was responsible for the founding of the Manchester Hospital for Consumption and Diseases of the Throat where he became honorary physician. He published a number of papers during his career, many of which were commentaries on cases he had attended to. Fletcher died at his residence in Higher Broughton on 4 February 1882 at the age of 59.

Related Material

A series of letters relating to Fletcher's appointment as medical officer to the Tib Street and Canal Street Workhouses in Manchester are held at The National Archives, Kew (MH 12/6043/216, MH 12/6043/217, MH 12/6043/237, MH 12/6043/238, MH 12/6043/239) along with those relating to the resignation of his duties to the Tib Street Workhouse (MH 12/6043/274, MH 12/6043/275, MH 12/6043/305).


Elwood & Tuxford Some Manchester Doctors Manchester 1984. J. Pickstone Medicine and Industrial Society Manchester 1985. 'Manchester Royal School of Medicine and Surgery' Provincial Medical & Surgical Journal 1844 8(32) p.505. 'Manchester Royal School of Medicine and Surgery: Distribution of Prizes to the Students' Provincial Medical & Surgical Journal 1846 10(41) pp.494-5. 'Births, Marriages, and Deaths' The Lancet 1882 119(3050) pp.254-255.