William Marsden


1796 – 1867


Who was William Marsden?

William Marsden was an English surgeon whose main achievements are the founding of two presently well-known hospitals, the Royal Free Hospital and the Royal Marsden Hospital.

Marsden was born in the village of Thornhill, near Dewsbury, in Yorkshire, the youngest of eight children. When he left school he was apprenticed to a wholesale druggist in Sheffield. In 1816, he moved to London where he took up an apprenticeship to a surgeon-apothecary before setting up on his own. At the end of 1824 he enrolled as a student of surgery at St Bartholomew's Hospital under the famous surgeon and lecturer John Abernethy. In April 1827 Marsden passed his MRCS examination to qualify as a full surgeon. He became an MD in 1838.

After discovering the difficulties the poor had in obtaining medical treatment, Marsden sought to establish a free hospital in London for which "poverty and sickness are the only passports". In 1828 he set up a small dispensary at 16 Greville Street, Hatton Garden, Holborn, which was named the London General Institution for the Gratuitous Cure of Malignant Diseases. This was later constituted as the Royal Free Hospital, and moved to the Gray's Inn Road in the 1840s.

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Thornhill, West Yorkshire
  • England
Resting place
West Norwood Cemetery

on July 23, 2013


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