Dr James Parkinson is most famous for publishing 'An Essay on the Shaking Palsy' in 1817, which established Parkinson’s as a recognised medical condition.
He was a pioneer not only in medicine but also in his scientific and political interests.
The son of an apothecary and surgeon, he was born on 11 April 1755. This is why Parkinson’s Awareness Week is in April each year, and 11 April is now World Parkinson’s Day.
James Parkinson studied at the London Hospital Medical College, qualifying as a surgeon in 1784 when he was 29.
After the death of his father in 1784, James Parkinson took over 1 Hoxton Square in Shoreditch, London, where he lived most of his life and practised medicine. A commemorative blue plaque can be seen on the house that now stands on the site.
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 suffrage.
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.