Posted by Kristen Hyde on October 17, 2016 in Collections, Regional, United Kingdom, Website

Spanning more than 350 years, Ancestry’s new UK Medical Registers document the careers of some of the most notable names in British medical history, including the man who discovered Penicillin, Britain’s first recognised female doctor and even a pair of suspected serial killers from the world of medicine.

Image: National Library of Medicine
Image: National Library of Medicine

The six new collections, digitised from original records held by the Wellcome Trust, hold details of medical professionals from the UK and Ireland between 1615 and 1980:

Medical Directories 1845-1942
Medical and Dental Students Registers, 1882-1937
Dentist Registers, 1879-1942
The Midwives Roll, 1904-1959
Roll of the Indian Medical Service, 1615-1930
Masseuse and Physiotherapy Registers, 1895-1980

Searchable by name, year of registration and location, the collections contain details of the careers of some of the most influential doctors of all time – the revolutionaries of modern medicine. Many proprietors of medical breakthroughs appear in the records, including:

Alexander Fleming – The collections record 22 years of Fleming’s career, during which time he discovered Penicillin when he went on holiday and found on his return that one of his petri-dish cultures was contaminated with mould spores that were fighting the virus he had been investigating. Records show him living in Paddington, working at St Mary’s Hospital, and detail where his findings were published in 1929.

Joseph Lister – Pioneer of antiseptic surgery Lister appears in records that detail his education at University College, London, and his subsequent career in Edinburgh and Glasgow, including an address he gave on his discoveries to the British Medical Association in 1871.

Henry Gray – Author of the ultimate medical textbook Gray’s Anatomy, the records show the meteoric rise of his career, during which he won both the Triennial Prize of the Royal College of Surgeons and the Astley Cooper Prize, both prestigious awards. His first appearance in the collections was two years after he published the first edition of his extraordinary book.

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson – Despite medicine being a restricted profession for many women in the time period covered by the majority of the records, several trailblazing women also appear in the collection. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was widely known as Britain’s first female doctor. The records cover forty years of her career, first in London then later when she moved to Suffolk, detailing her work with the British Medical Association and role at the London School of Medicine for Women, which she co-founded.

However, not all the doctors who appear in the collection have left an inspiring legacy. Two doctors suspected of being serial killers are also listed:

John Bodkin Adams – The records cover 17 years of Adams’ career, before he was later tried and acquitted for murder in 1957 after one of the murder trials of the century. Between 1946 and 1956 more than 160 of his patients died in suspicious circumstances, with 132 leaving him money or items in their wills.

Robert George Clements – Unlike the infamous Harold Shipman and Adams, Clements’ alleged crimes relate not to his career, but to his personal life. Records show him just after he qualified in Belfast, Ireland, then in Manchester, and Southport. He was married four times, all four wives predeceased him, with the fourth dying from morphine poisoning. Clements was the prime suspect in her murder but committed suicide (by overdosing on morphine) before he could be arrested. The early deaths of his previous wives raised suspicions that he had killed them too, having married each one for their wealth.

Start exploring the UK Medical Registers now on



Kristen Hyde

Kristen is Ancestry's Social Media Manager for the United Kingdom.


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