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Caleb Hillier Parry M.D. F.R.S.


Caleb Hillier Parry was the son of a non-conformist minister in Cirencester and the eldest of ten children. He was educated at Cirencester Grammar School, where he formed a lifelong friendship with Edward Jenner.

At the age of 15 years, Parry went to Dissenter's Academy, Warrington, Lancashire, where he met his wife, Sarah Rigby, and in 1773 went on to Edinburgh to study Medicine. After spending two years in London at the Middlesex Hospital, Parry returned to Edinburgh, obtaining his medical doctorate in 1778 with a thesis on rabies. The same year, he became a Licentiate of the College of Physicians of London and married Sarah. The following year he commenced general practice at 13, Catharine Place, Bath, and was appointed as physician to the Puerperal Charity Hospital and subsequently to the Casual Hospital. In 1800 he moved to 27, The Circus and then, in 1817, to 7, Sion Place. His estate was at Summerhill, Bath.

As a physician Parry excelled as physiologist and skilled experimenter. He had a life-long habit of taking detailed notes and his notes and books detail the life of a busy physician who worked long hours, but still found time for research. His major contribution to medicine was the recognition of the cause of Angina.

Like many prominent men of that era, he was a polymath and he made many conritbutions to non-medical subjects. In addition to being a shareholder in the S.C.C., he was a founder member of the Geological Society; having an interest in geology and fossils he would have come into contact with William Smith. The Reverend Richard Warner, Smith's note-taker, frequently visited Parry. Parry also belonged to the Philosophical Society of Bath and was an active member of the Bath & West of England Society where he won many prizes for sheep, which he bred for high quality wool.

Charles Parry MD FRS, his eldest son, continued in his father's footsteps as a noted physician in Bath, but also had a keen interest in the arts, being a friend of Coleridge, Southey and Wordsworth. His youngest son, Admiral Sir William Edward Parry FRS, became even more famous as a noted arctic explorer.

As well as a monument to Caleb Hillier Parry in Bath Abbey, there are two "Parry" wards in Bath Hospitals.


Photograph: Amanda Parnell

Parry's Memorial in Bath Abbey





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