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Biographical entry Parkin, John (1801 - 1886)

MRCS Oct 4th 1822; FRCS Jan 12th 1854; FRCP Edin 1876; MRCP 1875; LRCP 1859.

10 May 1801
18 March 1886


Born on May 10th, 1801, the son of one of the principal officers of HM Dockyards at Sheerness and Chatham. He received his preliminary education under Canon Griffiths, of Rochester, and his professional training under Abernethy at St Bartholomew's Hospital.

Settling in practice at Dover Street, Piccadilly, he devoted himself entirely to the treatment of lunacy, although he had previously spent much time in Spain in order to investigate the cholera there. At Chelsea, and then at York House, Battersea, he had private accommodation for the treatment of the insane, but, cholera breaking out in the West Indies, he severed his lucrative connection with his Battersea asylum and went out to the Colonies at his own expense. He remained abroad for many months, continuously attending cholera cases, and gaining such experience that he was sent out during a later West Indian visitation as Government Medical Inspector. After his return from the West Indies he went to Calcutta in order to study cholera on a different soil and among different races. From his long observation of this disease under various conditions he became strongly impressed with the conviction that cholera and other epidemics were in some measure due to those atmospheric conditions which attend or follow volcanic disturbances, so he was a strong opponent of all measures of quarantine.

It is remarkable that, though throughout life Parkin suffered from a serious physical disability - spina bifida - he yet pursued his many investigations indomitably. His character was one of intense earnestness and he was sincerely religious. He died in the full possession of all his faculties, and to the last took a most vivid interest in everything relating not only to his own profession, but to every topic of the day. His death occurred at his residence, 5 Codrington Place, Brighton, on March 18th, 1886. He was a Corresponding Fellow of the Royal Academies of Medicine and Surgery of Madrid, Barcelona, Cadiz, the Peloritan Society of Messina, and others.

Parkin left behind no writings on lunacy, but wrote voluminously on his other special subjects. His bibliography is as follows:-
Memoria sobre el Tratamiento curativo del Calera epidemico, 12mo, Barcelona, 1834.
Mémoire sur le Traitement curatif du Choléra épidemique - translation of the above by M F Duval, Montpellier, 1835.
The same. Abhandlung über das Heilverfahren bei der epidemischen Cholera. Aus dem Spanischen von T Zschokke, 12mo, Aarau, 1836.
Observaciones sobre la Fisiologia y el Tratamiento del Colera morbo en el Estado de Colapso, 12mo, Valencia, 1835.
"El Vapor": "El Catalan": "Bol de Med": containing references to Parkin's works on cholera. 1834-5.
On the Efficacy of Carbonic Acid Gas in the Diseases of Tropical Climates; with Directions for the Treatment of the Acute and Chronic Stages of Dysentery, 8vo, London, 1836.
On the Antidotal Treatment of the Epidemic Cholera; with a Sketch of the Physiology of this Disease, as deduced from that of Intermittent Fever, 8vo, London, 1836; 2nd ed, with appendix, 1846.
The same. With Directions, General and Individual, for the Prevention of the Disease, 3rd ed, 8vo, London, 1866.
On Gout: its Cause, Nature and Treatment, 8vo, London, 1841.
On the Remote Causes of Epidemic Diseases, Part I, 8vo, London, 1841.
On the Remote Causes of Epidemic Diseases; or, The Influence of Volcanic Action in the Production of General Pestilences, Part II, 8vo, 3 maps, London, 1853.
The Prevention and Treatment of Disease in the Potato and other Crops, 8vo, London, 1847.
Statistical Report of the Epidemic Cholera in Jamaica, 8vo, London, 1852. L'Antidote du Choléra asiatique, 8vo, Rome, 1858.
A Letter to the Metropolitan Vestries on the Main Drainage Scheme (for private circulation), 8vo, London, 1859.
The Causation and Prevention of Disease, 8vo, London, 1859.
The Utilization of the Sewage of Towns, 8vo, London, 1862.
The Cause, Prevention and Treatment of the Cattle Plague, 8vo, London, 1865. Epidemiology; or, The Remote Cause of Epidemic Diseases in the Animal and in the Vegetable Creation, Part I, 8vo, London, 1873.
The same. With the Cause of Hurricanes, and Abnormal Atmospheric Vicissitudes, Part II; 2nd ed, 8vo, 1 plan, 1880.
Climate and Phthisis; or, The Influence of Climate in the Production and Prevention of Phthisis, 8vo, London, 1875.
Sanitary Reform: is it a Reality, or is it not? 8vo, London, 1875.
Gout: its Cause, Nature, and Treatment, with Directions for the Regulation of the Diet, 2nd ed, 8vo, London, 1877.
The Antidotal Treatment of Disease, Part I, 8vo, London, 1878.
Climate: its Influence in the Production and Prevention of Phthisis and other Diseases, 2nd ed, 12mo, London, 1882.
Phthisis: its Cause, Nature, and Treatment; being Part II of the Antidotal Treatment of Disease, 8vo, London, 1883.
The Volcanic Origin of Epidemics (popular edition), 12mo, London, 1887.
Are Epidemics Contagious? (popular edition), 12mo, London, 1887.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Med-Chir Trans, 1887, lxx, 11].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England