Famous British Physicians

Physicians or doctors from across the world have garnered much respect and admiration for the hard work that they do. Popularly known as the healers of the world, physicians are human magicians who with their deep understanding and knowledge bereft individual suffering and put an end to malignant diseases and sickness. Every country today has its own list of physicians who have mastered the art of curing. However, in this particular section, we shall be throwing limelight on British physicians. From child prodigy James Parkinson to founder of modern pathology James Paget, preventer of Rh haemolytic disease Sir Cyril Astley Clarke to first female British physician Elizabeth Blackwell, the list goes endless. The turn of 19th century saw the likes of Thomas Addison who discovered Addison’s disease and Addisonian anemia, Cicely Saunders who emphasized the importance of palliative care in modern medicine, and the like. 20th century Britain was no less as significant British physicians such as Oliver Sacks who authored numerous best-selling books recording case histories of people with neurological disorders, Magdi Yacoub who is known for his pioneering work in the field of heart surgery came under prominence. To know more on the life and works of famous British physicians, read on.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Alexander Fleming

Alexander Fleming
Famous As: Biologist, Pharmacologist, Discovered Penicillin
Birthdate: August 6, 1881
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lochfield, Ayrshire, Scotland
Died: March 11, 1955

Alexander Fleming was a Scottish microbiologist and physician. He is credited with discovering penicillin, the world's first effective antibiotic substance; a discovery that changed the course of history. He also discovered lysozyme, an antimicrobial enzyme which forms part of the innate immune system. In 1999, Fleming was named in Time magazine's 100 Most Important People of the 20th century list.

 2 Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: July 25, 1920
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Notting Hill, London, England
Died: April 16, 1958
Chemist and X-ray crystallographer Rosalind Franklin is remembered for her pathbreaking X-ray diffraction studies of DNA, which helped in the Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the double helix structure of DNA by Francis Crick, James Watson, and Maurice Wilkins later. She also worked on the molecular structures of viruses. 

 3 Edward Jenner

Edward Jenner
Famous As: Physicians
Birthdate: May 17, 1749
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Berkeley, England
Died: January 26, 1823

Edward Jenner was an English scientist and physician. Referred to as the father of immunology, Jenner is credited with pioneering the concept of vaccines. Jenner's work laid the foundation for subsequent discoveries in the field of immunology; his work is believed to have saved more lives than any other work. In 2002, Jenner was included in BBC’s Greatest Britons list.

 4 John Locke

John Locke
Famous As: Father of Classical Liberalism
Birthdate: August 29, 1632
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Wrington, Somerset, England
Died: October 28, 1704
John Locke, also known as The Father of Liberalism, was a prominent Enlightenment Age philosopher. A qualified physician, Locke postulated the theory of mind, empiricism, and the idea of tabula rasa. His ideas influenced the social contract theory, the works of Kant and Rousseau, and the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

 5 Francis Crick

Francis Crick
Famous As: Co-discoverer of the Structure of the DNA Molecule, Nobel Prize Winner
Birthdate: June 8, 1916
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Weston Favell, Northamptonshire, England
Died: July 28, 2004

Nobel Prize-winning British biophysicist Francis Crick is best known for his ground-breaking work to determine the structure of the DNA, along with James Watson, Maurice Wilkins, and Rosalind Franklin. He taught at various institutes, such as the Salk Institute, and was also awarded the Order of Merit.

 6 William Harvey

William Harvey
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: April 1, 1578
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Folkestone, England
Died: June 3, 1657

The first to discover the entire process of human blood circulation, physician William Harvey was a Royal College of Physicians fellow. He also served as the personal physician of James I. He later worked at the Bartholomew’s Hospital but was replaced for being a staunch monarchist.

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 7 Hasnat Khan

Hasnat Khan
Famous As: Cardiologist
Birthdate: April 1, 1959
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Jhelum

Better known as former lover of Princess Diana, British-Pakistani cardiac surgeon Hasnat Khan was once described by the late princess as “Mr Wonderful.” He had first met Diana at the Royal Brompton Hospital, where the princess had gone to visit a friend. Hasnat is a distant relative of Imran Khan.

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 8 Andrew Wakefield

Andrew Wakefield
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: 1957 AD
Birthplace: Eton, Berkshire, England

Former physician Andrew Wakefield had his name removed from the medical register due to his association with a fraudulent 1998 study that claimed there was a link between autism and the vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella. An anti-vaccination activist, he also taught at the Royal Free and University College.

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 9 Joseph Lister

Joseph Lister
Famous As: Surgeon and Scientist
Birthdate: April 5, 1827
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Upton House, West Ham, England
Died: February 10, 1912

British surgeon Joseph Lister was a pioneer of antiseptic medicine usage and made a huge contribution to the development of preventive medicine for bacterial infection. His achievements have been honored by many, such as the makers of Listerine antiseptic and mouthwash, who named their product after him.

 10 John Snow

John Snow
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: March 15, 1813
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: York, United Kingdom
Died: June 16, 1858

Best known as the father of modern epidemiology, British doctor John Snow revolutionized medical science with his study of London’s Broad Street cholera outbreak of 1854. His research contributed to the development of London’s sewage and water systems and led to the reduction in cholera cases.

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 11 Roger Bannister

Roger Bannister
Famous As: Former British Athlete Who Ran The First Sub-Four-Minute Mile
Birthdate: March 23, 1929
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Harrow, England

British middle-distance athlete and neurologist Sir Roger Gilbert Bannister was the first athlete to run a mile in less than four minutes. Before achieving such feat, Bannister set a British record in the 1500 metres during the 1952 Summer Olympics. In the medical field, Bannister became a neurologist and Master of Pembroke College, Oxford.

 12 Harry Hill

Harry Hill
Famous As: Comedians
Birthdate: October 1, 1964
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Woking, Surrey, England, UK

Noted comedian and You've Been Framed! star Harry Hill is a trained neurosurgeon who quit his medical career to step into the world of entertainment. The Perrier Award-winning performer has soared to fame with the radio series Harry Hill's Fruit Corner and the ITV show Harry Hill's TV Burp.

 13 Maurice Wilkins

Maurice Wilkins
Famous As: Biophysicist
Birthdate: December 15, 1916
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Pongaroa, Wairarapa, New Zealand
Died: October 5, 2004

Born in New Zealand, to a doctor father from Dublin, Maurice grew up to be a Nobel Prize-winning biophysicist. His X-ray diffraction studies of DNA helped James D. Watson and Francis Crick, his fellow Nobel laureates, ascertain the DNA structure. He was also part of the Manhattan Project.

 14 James Barry

James Barry
Famous As: military physician, Surgeon
Birthdate: November 9, 1795
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Belfast
Died: July 25, 1865

Military surgeon James Miranda Steuart Barry is most noted for making medical reforms and performing one of the first known successful Caesarean sections in Africa. Although during adulthood Barry lived as a man, at birth Barry was named Margaret Ann Bulkley and was known as a girl-child. Barry's birth sex became public after a post-mortem examination.     

 15 Liam Fox

Liam Fox
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: September 22, 1961
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: East Kilbride, Scotland, UK

British politician Liam Fox has held important posts, such as that of the Secretary of State for International Trade and has also chaired the Conservative Party. He is also a qualified general physician and a former civilian army medical officer. He is married to a fellow doctor.

 16 Christian Jessen

Christian Jessen
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: March 4, 1977
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hammersmith, London, England, UK

A qualified doctor, Christian Jessen holds a degree in sexual health and has also worked extensively on areas such as HIV. He became a household name after appearing on TV shows such as Embarrassing Bodies. The gay physician has also appeared on non-medical reality shows, such as Ready Steady Cook.

 17 Thomas Young

Thomas Young
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: June 13, 1773
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Milverton
Died: May 10, 1829

Often referred as The Last Man Who Knew Everything, British polymath Thomas Young made significant contributions to a wide range of subjects like vision, light, energy, musical harmony etc. Especially famous for Wave Theory of Light, he also made significant contribution in deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphs. Young-Helmholtz theory, Young temperament and Young's Modulus carry his legacy to these days.

 18 Ronald Ross

Ronald Ross
Famous As: Medical doctor
Birthdate: May 13, 1857
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Almora
Died: September 16, 1932

Nobel Prize-winning British doctor Ronald Ross is best remembered for his pathbreaking work on malaria, which proved that the disease was caused by the Anopheles variant of mosquitoes. After his extensive research in India, he went back to London, where he was knighted. He also wrote poetry and songs.

 19 John Bodkin Adams

John Bodkin Adams
Famous As: Physician, Serial killer
Birthdate: January 21, 1899
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Randalstown
Died: July 4, 1983

Not many suspected physician John Bodkin Adams of being a serial killer till it was revealed that his name had appeared in the wills of at least 132 of his patients who had died, while 163 died in coma. Though never convicted of the killings, he faced punishment for forgery.

 20 Cicely Saunders

Cicely Saunders
Famous As: English nurse
Birthdate: June 22, 1918
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Barnet, Hertfordshire, England
Died: July 14, 2005
A pioneer of the hospice movement, English nurse and social worker Cicely Saunders not only developed the palliative care approach but also established the St. Christopher’s Hospice in London. A supporter of medical ethics, she was against voluntary euthanasia. She won numerous awards, such as the Templeton Prize.

 21 Henry Gray

Henry Gray
Famous As: Anatomist and surgeon
Birthdate: 1827 AD
Birthplace: Belgravia
Died: June 13, 1861

Best known for his iconic medical textbook Gray's Anatomy, surgeon Henry Gray, who was a skilled anatomist, was made a Fellow of The Royal Society at the tender age of 25. His untimely death at 34 due to small pox, while treating his nephew, cheated him of an illustrious career.

 22 Simon Baron-Cohen

Simon Baron-Cohen
Famous As: Psychologist, University teacher, Psychiatrist, Researcher
Birthdate: August 15, 1958
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: London

British clinical-psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen is noted for making significant contributions in fields like autism-neuroimaging, autism-genetics, and synaesthesia, and his services to autistic people, for which he was knighted in the 2021 New Year Honours. He formulated mind-blindness theory and fetal-sex-steroid theory of autism and presently serves as a professor at the University of Cambridge and director of the university's Autism Research Centre.

 23 Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson
Famous As: Mayor of Aldeburgh
Birthdate: June 9, 1836
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Whitechapel
Died: December 17, 1917

The first female doctor and surgeon of Britain, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was initially denied admission to medical schools because of her gender and had thus started studying privately. Soon after joining the Marylebone Dispensary as an attendant, she contributed to the formation of the New Hospital for Women.

 24 Hudson Taylor

Hudson Taylor
Famous As: Missionary
Birthdate: May 21, 1832
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Barnsley, Yorkshire, England
Died: June 3, 1905

Hudson Taylor was one of the most popular Christian missionaries in China. His 51-year stint in China witnessed him baptizing over 50,000 people. Apart from converting people, he also mingled with the Chinese at a personal level, adopting their clothing habits, contrary to what other missionaries practiced.

 25 Robert Winston

Robert Winston
Famous As: Surgeon, Scientist, TV Presenter
Birthdate: July 15, 1940
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London, England

British professor, medical doctor, scientist, television presenter and Labour Party politician Robert Winston is noted for developing gynaecological surgical procedures that improved fertility treatments. He also pioneered different improvements in IVF technology. He was created a life peer in December 1995.

 26 James Parkinson

James Parkinson
Famous As: Surgeon
Birthdate: April 11, 1755
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Shoreditch
Died: December 21, 1824

The man who lent his name to Parkinson’s disease, which he described as paralysis agitans in Essay on the Shaking Palsy, James Parkinson was a leading English surgeon. An avid paleontologist and geologist too, he often collected specimens and fossils. He and his son also offered the first description of appendicitis.

 27 Havelock Ellis

Havelock Ellis
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: February 2, 1859
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Croydon
Died: July 8, 1939

Havelock Ellis co-wrote the first English textbook on homosexuality. Initially a teacher in Australia, he later moved to London to study medicine. His seven-part Studies in the Psychology of Sex is a first-of-its-kind study on human sexuality. He also believed in eugenics and the importance of smell in sexual behavior.

 28 Rashid Buttar

Rashid Buttar
Famous As: Physician, Activist
Birthdate: January 20, 1966
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London, England

 29 Marty Makary

Marty Makary
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Liverpool

Johns Hopkins Hospital surgical oncologist Marty Makary is also known as the author of The New York Times bestseller Unaccountable. He specializes in pancreatic surgery and teaches public health policy. He has also written for Time magazine and The Wall Street Journal and has worked with the WHO.

 30 Hans Sloane

Hans Sloane
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: April 16, 1660
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Killyleagh, Northern Ireland
Died: January 11, 1753

British doctor Hans Sloane traveled to Jamaica as a personal physician of the 2nd duke of Albermarle and was soon engrossed in the natural species of the region. He documented his collections, and they eventually helped form the British Museum. He is also known as the inventor of drinking chocolate.

 31 Ludwig Guttmann

Ludwig Guttmann
Famous As: Neurologist
Birthdate: July 3, 1899
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Toszek
Died: March 18, 1980

Born in Germany, neurosurgeon Ludwig Guttmann fled the country during the Nazi regime and later settled in the UK. What started as his effort to rehabilitate injured soldiers, materialized into the launch of the Paralympic Games to encourage sports among the disabled. He also worked extensively on paraplegia.

 32 Thomas Neill Cream

Thomas Neill Cream
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: May 27, 1850
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Glasgow
Died: November 15, 1892

Thomas Neill Cream, or the Lambeth Poisoner, was a Scottish-Canadian doctor who offered illegal abortions to sex workers in Chicago. He was later executing for poisoning scores of women and blackmailing others for their murders. It is believed he had claimed to be Jack the Ripper just before his execution.

 33 Henry Marsh

Henry Marsh
Famous As: Neurosurgeon
Birthdate: March 5, 1950
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Oxford, England

A neurosurgeon and best-selling author, Henry Thomas Marsh is also the subject of two BBC documentaries, Your Life in Their Hands and The English Surgeon, the later being based on his pioneering work in the field neurosurgery in Ukraine. A senior consultant neurosurgeon till his retirement from St George's Hospital, London, he specializes in performing brain operation under local anesthesia.

 34 Theodore Dalrymple

Theodore Dalrymple
Famous As: Journalist, Psychiatrist, Conspiracy theorist, Writer, Non-fiction writer
Birthdate: October 11, 1949
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London

Anthony Malcolm Daniels, better known by his pseudonym, Theodore Dalrymple, has worked as a physician in many African countries, such as Tanzania and Zimbabwe. The retired consultant psychiatrist and prison doctor is now known for his social and culture critiques in City Journal and other publications.

 35 Wilfred Bion

Wilfred Bion
Famous As: Psychiatrist, Psychanalyst, Psychologist
Birthdate: September 8, 1897
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Mathura
Died: November 8, 1979

Born in British India, Wilfred Bion grew up to be a prominent psychoanalyst. He had fought during World War I. He is best remembered for his work on group dynamics and the object relations theory. He was also part of the Tavistock group of psychologists who founded the Tavistock Institute.

 36 Ran Laurie

Ran Laurie
Famous As: Physician, Rower
Birthdate: June 4, 1915
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Grantchester, Cambridgeshire, England
Died: September 19, 1998

 37 Philippa Perry

Philippa Perry
Famous As: Psychotherapist, Novelist
Birthdate: November 1, 1957
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Warrington

 38 Michael Dillon

Michael Dillon
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: May 1, 1915
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: England
Died: May 15, 1962

Born Laura Dillon, a girl, in Britain, Michael Dillon later became the first trans man to undergo a female-to-male sex-change operation by phalloplasty. A qualified doctor, he also served as a naval surgeon, penned books such as Self: A Study in Ethics and Endocrinology, and later deviated to Buddhism.

 39 Nicholas Barbon

Nicholas Barbon
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: 1640 AD
Birthplace: London, England
Died: 1698 AD

The son of a preacher, economist Nicholas Barbon actively participated in reconstructing London following the Great Fire of 1666 and then launched his own insurance company, pioneering fire insurance. As an economist, he penned significant works on the free market and division of labor. He was also a qualified doctor.

 40 Tobias Smollett

Tobias Smollett
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: March 19, 1721
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Dalquhurn (now part of Renton, Scotland Renton), Scotland
Died: September 17, 1771

Best known for his picaresque novels such as The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, Scottish novelist Tobias Smollett was born into a family of lawyers and soldiers and initially attended medical training. Some believe he quit university without a degree, while it is also said he had served as a navy surgeon.

 41 John Langdon Down

John Langdon Down
Famous As: Physician, Psychiatrist, Neurologist
Birthdate: November 18, 1828
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Torpoint
Died: October 7, 1896

British doctor John Langdon Down was pushed to assist at his father’s shop at 14. He gained an interest in medicine after apprenticing with a London surgeon. A pioneer in the treatment of mentally challenged patients, he is remembered for his study of what is now known as Down syndrome.

 42 Sid Watkins

Sid Watkins
Famous As: Neurologist, Surgeon, Neurosurgeon, Physician
Birthdate: September 6, 1928
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Liverpool
Died: September 12, 2012

Eric Sidney Watkins or Professor Sid, as he was known within the Formula One fraternity, wanted to become a doctor since his childhood. An experienced neurosurgeon and academician, he later became Formula One's trackside consultant and safety adviser. He concentrated on creating sophisticated medical back-up necessary for providing timely treatment, thus saving many lives through prompt actions.

 43 Kevin Fong

Kevin Fong
Famous As: Consultant, Television presenter, Lecturer
Birthdate: May 21, 1971
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: London Borough of Brent

Apart from being a consultant anaesthetist at UCL Hospitals, Kevin Fong is also a physiology lecturer. The multi-talented doctor has also soared to fame as a presenter of the documentary series Horizon and other programs. He also specializes in space and extreme environment medicine and is a Wellcome Trust fellow.

 44 Thomas Bowdler

Thomas Bowdler
Famous As: Physician, Chess player
Birthdate: July 11, 1754
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bath
Died: February 24, 1825

Best known for publishing The Family Shakespeare volumes, which made Shakespeare’s plays appealing to children, Thomas Bowdler was also a qualified doctor. His technique of diluting Shakespeare’s works gave rise to the word bowdlerize, which describes the over-simplification of books, films, or series, for making them family-friendly.

 45 Robert Fludd

Robert Fludd
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: January 17, 1574
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bearsted, England
Died: September 8, 1637

Best remembered for his study of occult philosophy, Robert Fludd, the son of English diplomat Sir Thomas Fludd, was also a physician. However, he was criticized for being a medical professional who believed in magic and defended Rosicrucianism. His other interests included cosmology, astrology, and Freemasonry.

 46 Thomas Addison

Thomas Addison
Famous As: Physician, scientist
Birthdate: April 2, 1793
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Longbenton, Northumberland
Died: June 29, 1860

The man behind the discoveries of ailments such as Addison's disease and Addison’s (pernicious) anemia, British physician Thomas Addison also co-wrote the first book on the effect of poisonous agents on the human body. He plunged into depression in his later years and eventually committed suicide.

 47 William Worrall Mayo

William Worrall Mayo
Famous As: Chemist, Politician, Gynaecologist, Editor
Birthdate: May 31, 1819
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Salford
Died: March 6, 1911

Part of the renowned Mayo family of doctors of the U.S., William Worrall Mayo played a key role in establishing the Mayo Clinic. He and his two sons built the St. Mary’s Hospital, along with the Sisters of St. Francis, after the deadly tornado of 1883 destroyed Rochester.

 48 Alex Comfort

Alex Comfort
Famous As: Physician, Writer, University teacher, Psychiatrist
Birthdate: February 10, 1920
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London
Died: March 26, 2000

Best known for his world-renowned bestselling sex manual The Joy of Sex and its equally successful follow-up books, British physician Alex Comfort had earned the nickname “Dr. Sex.” He had also written extensively on aging. He had apparently lost his left hand, except his thumb, in a gunpowder experiment.

 49 Thomas Sydenham

Thomas Sydenham
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: September 10, 1624
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Wynford Eagle
Died: December 29, 1689

Known as The English Hippocrates for authoring the medicine textbook Observationes Medicae, physician Thomas Sydenham is also remembered for his pathbreaking research on gout and scarlet fever. He also discovered St. Vitus’ dance, or Sydenham’s chore; believed in nosological classification of ailments; and popularized the use of quinine for treating malaria.

 50 George Bass

George Bass
Famous As: Explorer, Surgeon
Birthdate: January 30, 1771
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Aswarby
Died: April 22, 2017

British naval surgeon George Bass is best remembered for his exploratory voyage to Australia, aboard the Reliance. He explored areas such as the Sydney coastline, Tasmania, and New South Wales. However, he was declared lost at sea after disappearing on a commercial voyage to South America.