b.28 December 1810 d.24 September 1873
MD St And MRCS FRCP(1859)
John Thurnham was born at Lingcroft near York, the son of William Thurnham, a Quaker, and his wife Sarah Clark. Dermott’s School of Anatomy in Soho and the Westminster Hospital provided his medical training, and, after qualifying in 1834, he held a resident appointment at the Hospital for four years. In 1838 he obtained the post of superintendent of the Friends’ Retreat at York and began research on insanity. His work On the Statistics of Insanity, and on Establishments for the Insane was published in 1845. In 1849 he was chosen as the first medical superintendent of the new Wiltshire County Asylum, opened two years later. Craniology now became his special study. He produced, in 1865, with J. B. Davis, two volumes entitled Crania Britannica and was the author of several papers on the subject, including one on Ancient British and Gaulish Skulls. He was a diligent explorer of British barrows and presented a collection of skulls to Cambridge University and one of relics to the British Museum. He was twice president of the Medico-Psychological Association. He married in 1851 Frances Elizabeth, daughter of Matthew Wyatt, a Metropolitan police magistrate, and had three sons. He died at Devizes.
G H Brown
[Lancet, 1873; B.M.J., 1873; Medical Times and Gazette, 1873; D.N.B., lvi, 351]
(Volume IV, page 120)
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