Dr James Parkinson
James Parkinson is most famous for publishing "An Essay on the
Shaking Palsy" in 1817, which established Parkinson's as a recognised medical
James Parkinson was the first to describe "paralysis agitans". This was later named Parkinson's disease after him.
He was a pioneer not only in medicine but also in his scientific
and political interests.
The son of an apothecary/surgeon, he was born on 11 April 1755,
which is why we hold Parkinson's Awareness
Week in April each year.
James Parkinson lived most of his life and practised medicine at
1 Hoxton Square, Shoreditch, London.
A commemorative blue plaque can be seen on the house that now
stands on the site.
James Parkinson's medical career
James Parkinson studied at the London Hospital Medical College,
qualifying as a surgeon in 1784 when he was 29.
became an honorary medallist of the Royal Humane Society in 1777
after assisting his father in using resuscitation methods on a man
who had hanged himself.
After the death of his father in 1784, James Parkinson took over
the practice at Hoxton Square. The practice was a large, lucrative
one that also cared for the poor of the parish.
He had a keen interest in the wellbeing of people with mental
illness, working at a local asylum for more than 30 years.
James Parkinson was a social reformer and political activist who
championed many causes.
He wrote many pamphlets that were highly critical of the
political system of the day and advocated reforms such as
representation of the people in the House of Commons and universal
In later life, James Parkinson took on other responsibilities
with humanitarian goals, highlighting the importance of the welfare
of children who worked as apprentices.
He uncovered abuses and encouraged reform of the law governing
apprentices, in order to make reviews and inspections an integral
part of the system.
Read more about James Parkinson's remarkable, and occasionally
controversial, life in our Dr James
Parkinson information sheet
James Parkinson in the spotlight
Parkinson's UK-funded researcher Dr
Patrick Lewis has an
article in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease (published
September 2012), illuminating the life and career of James
Patrick (pictured right) comments:
"I think James Parkinson would marvel at the progress that has
been made in diagnosing, understanding, and treating the condition
that now bears his name.
"But I'm sure he'd be surprised and disappointed to discover
that, almost two centuries after his essay, we are yet to find a
cure for this devastating condition."
Also in this section
Research into the causes of Parkinson's
As the UK's Parkinson's support and research charity we're
leading the work to find a cure. Find out more about our research