- A dictionary of medical eponyms

John Thurnam

Born  1810
Died  1873

Related eponyms

British psychiatrist, archaeologist and ethnologist, born December 28, 1810, Lingcroft, near York; died September 24, 1873.

Biography of John Thurnam

John Thurnam studied in London and became a member of the Royal College of Surgeon in 1834. He was then resident physician at the Westminster Hospital and in 1838 became director of the mental asylum "The Retreat near York. In 1843 he became a licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians of London, and in 1846 he obtained his medical doctorate from King's College in Aberdeen. From 1859 he was a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London.

In 1849, the Wilts County Council assigned him with the task of establishing a lunatic asylum. He was superintendent of the Wiltshire County Asylum from its opening in 1851 until his death in 1873. In 1841 and 1855 he was president of the Medico-Psychological Association. He was also a member of a commission for statistics on insanity and edited the tables published by the commission.


  • Remarks on the discovery of the otic ganglion. The Lancet, London, 1832.
  • Method of dissecting the otic ganglion. The London Medical Gazette, 1833.
  • On aneurisms of the heart: With cases. London, G. Woodfall, 1838. 81 pages.
  • On rupture of the heart: And on haemorrhage into the pericardium, without rupture of the heart or great vessels : with cases. 1838. 7 pages.
  • State of an institution, near York, called "the Retreat" for persons afflicted with disorders of the mind. York, 1840.
  • Statistics of the Retreat near York; consisting of a report and tables exhibiting the experience of that institution for the insane, from its establishment in 1796 to 1840. York, 1840.
  • On the Relative Liability of the Two Sexes to Insanity.
    Journal of the Statistical Society of London, December 1844, 7 (4): 310-316
  • Observations and Essays on the Statistics of Insanity : Including an Inquiry into the Causes Influencing the Results of Treatment in Establishments for the insane; to Which Are Added the Statistics of the Retreat, Near York.
    London, 1845. New edition in 1976 by Ayer Co. Pub.
    Thurnam wrote his book during a 10 year stint as superintendent of the Quaker York Retreat. Thurman naturally reviews results of therapy and relapses in his patients, but his greater focus is on factors of aetiology, the questions of sex, age, climate, race, and station in society.
  • Two cases in which the skin, hair and teeth were imperfectly developed.
    Medico-Chirurgical transactions, London, 1848, 31: 71-82.
  • Crania Britannica.
    By Davis Joseph Barnard (1801-1881) and John Thurnham.
    London, printed for the subscribers, 1856-1865.
  • On the two principal forms of ancient British and Gaulish skulls.
    Printed by T. Richards 1865. 109 pages.
  • On an Anglo-Saxon fibula in the museum of the society.
    Printed by J.B. Nichols and Sons, 1867.
  • On the weight of the brain, and on the circumstances affecting it.
    The Journal of Mental Science, London, volume 12, 1866.

What is an eponym?

An eponym is a word derived from the name of a person, whether real or fictional. A medical eponym is thus any word related to medicine, whose name is derived from a person.

What is Whonamedit?

Whonamedit.com is a biographical dictionary of medical eponyms. It is our ambition to present a complete survey of all medical phenomena named for a person, with a biography of that person.


Whonamedit? does not give medical advice.
This survey of medical eponyms and the persons behind them is meant as a general interest site only. No information found here must under any circumstances be used for medical purposes, diagnostically, therapeutically or otherwise. If you, or anybody close to you, is affected, or believe to be affected, by any condition mentioned here: see a doctor.