Thomas Radford

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 MMM/14
  • Dates of Creation
      ca. 1750-1837
  • Language of Material
      English  & Latin
  • Physical Description
      41 items

Scope and Content

Throughout his career Radford was committed to the study and practice of midwifery and obstetrics and his manuscripts reflect this. Radford donated his library to St Mary's Hospital in 1853 and all the manuscripts in this collection would originally have been part of the Radford Library before it was donated to owens College in 1927 and merged with the rest of the medical library. C.J. Cullingworth's 1877 catalogue of the Radford Library provides a good point of reference for establishing its size and contents and also providing brief descriptions of some of the manuscripts described below.

Administrative / Biographical History

Thomas Radford (1793-1881) was born on 2 November 1793 at Hulme Fields in Salford, the son of dyer and bleacher, John Radford. He commenced his medical education at the age of 17 as a apprentice to his uncle, William Wood, a surgeon attached to the Manchester and Salford Lying-in Institution. Wood also practised privately from King Street, Manchester, where Radford too practised for many years afterwards. He continued his studies at Guy's and St Thomas's Hospitals in London where he qualified as LSA and MRCS in 1817. Radford gained his MD some years later from the University of Heidelberg in 1839 and in the same year was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. In 1852 he also became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

Upon his return to Manchester in 1818 at the age of 25 he was appointed surgeon to the Manchester and Salford Lying-in Hospital. Just a few years later in 1821 he was also appointed to the role of man-midwife to St Mary's Hospital for Women and Children. Radford had close links to St Mary's for the rest of his career and his role developed so that he became surgeon-extraordinary in 1834 and consulting physician from 1841 until his death in 1881. He was also chairman of the Hospital's Board of Management from 1874 to 1881.

Radford dedicated a significant amount of time and effort to the needs of St Mary's Hospital, to which he donated his extensive and valuable library and his collection of medical objects in 1853. He was also instrumental in campaigning for the erection of new buildings, which were opened in 1856 and later in life he also entrusted a significant sum of money, primarily for the medical care of the poorer inhabitants of Hulme Fields and the upkeep of the library.

Throughout his career Radford published numerable papers and books on different elements of obstetrics including his 1865 work Observations on the Caesarean Section, Craniotomy and on other Obstetric Operations, to which a second edition was published in 1880. He also gave the first address on obstetrics to the Provincial Medical Association, now the British Medical Association, and furthermore invented two types of forceps. He had many professional ties to other notable Manchester-based gynaecologists, supporting Charles Clay in his early attempts at ovariotomy operations and vocalising his support for John Hull in support of the caesarean operation.

Radford also played a prominent role in the provision of medical education in Manchester. As early as 1825 he lectured on the theory and practice of midwifery at Joseph Jordan's school of anatomy and in the same year was one of the founders of the Manchester School of Medicine. In 1832 he also lectured on midwifery in conjunction with a colleague from the Manchester and Salford Lying-in Hospital, Mr Richard Thomas Hunt, from Hunt's premises at 90 King Street. A year later in 1833 he began teaching midwifery at the Pine Street Medical School. His involvement in local professional societies saw him serve as treasurer of the Manchester Medical Society from 1834 to 1841 and saw him elected president in 1848.

Radford had married Elizabeth Newton, daughter of John Newton, incumbent of Didsbury, in 1821 and together they had one child. Their child died young and Elizabeth died in 1874. Radford lived to the age of 87 and died on 29 May 1881 at his home in Higher Broughton, Manchester.


Radford's manuscripts having been divided between those which he was personally responsible for creating and those which he has acquired from other sources:

  • MMM/14/1 - Radford's Own Works
  • MMM/14/2 - Works Collected by Radford


P.M. Dunn 'Dr Thomas Radford (1793-1881) of Manchester and Obstructed Labour' Archives of Diseases in Childhood 1993 69(3) pp.327-9. Elwood & Tuxford Some Manchester Doctors Manchester 1984. Pigot & Dean's New Directory of Manchester, Salford Etc for 1821-2 (Manchester: R&W Dean, 1822). C.W. Sutton, 'Radford, Thomas (1793-1881)', rev. Ornelia Moscucci Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Oxford University Press, 2004. The Royal College of Surgeons of England, 'Radford, Thomas (1793-1881)' Plarr's Lives of the Fellows Online 2012.