Funerary monument to Joseph Hodgson (1788-1869), the celebrated physician who identified Hodgson's disease: "aneurysmal dilatation of the proximal part of the aorta ... sometimes accompanied” by dilatation of the heart" (Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine). This tomb-chest of marble and Portland stone, with its colonettes and portrait relief, is another of the Grade II listed monuments in the Western part of Highgate Cemetery, Swain's Lane, London N.6. [Click on this and the following images for larger pictures.]

Joseph Hodgson was born into a Quaker family at Penrith in Cumberland. The son of a Birmingham merchant, he attended the King Edward VI Grammar School in Birmingham and was then apprenticed to a surgeon at Birmingham General Hospital, before being enabled by his uncle to start medical studies at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London. Here he excelled, winning a prize for his essay "On wounds and diseases of the arteries and veins." This was developed into a classic book published in 1815, and now digitalised in Google Books: Treatise on the Disease of Arteries and Veins, containing the Pathology and Treatment of Aneurisms and Wounded Arteries. Hodgson would be at the forefront of research into these conditions, and later, on his return to Birmingham, was important in founding the Birmingham Eye Infirmary. He had a large practice in Birmingham, treating among many others Robert Peel and members of his family. Among his various interesting connections was that with Francis Galton, whose birth he had attended in 1822, and whom he introduced to "the world of medicine" when the young man started his studies at the Birmingham General Hospital in 1838 (Berclouw). He performed the post-mortem examination on Dr Arnold in 1842, and not long afterwards became one of the original fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons.

Though he had earlier declined appointments in London, including that of chair of surgery at King's College Hospital, Hodgson did retire there in 1849, becoming examiner in surgery to the Royal College and also to London University. He became President of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1864.” by all accounts, he was conservative, cautious and benevolent, as well as a fine diagnostician and surgeon. He died the day after his wife. According to the Times obituary, her "sudden and unexpected death" was a "shock from which he could not be rallied." Death notices (e.g. in the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent) tell us that Mary Ann Hodgson was rather younger, still aged 72. The couple left a widowed daughter. The funeral took place on 13 February 1869.

All photographs except the one below by Robert Freidus, reproduced here by kind permission of Highgate Cemetery. [See the index for the cemetery for many more views of the cemetery and its monuments.]

Joseph Hodgson

Joseph Hodgson, after John Partridge. Mezzotint, 1849. © copyright National Portrait Gallery, London,” by kind permission.


Berclouw, Marja. "Francis Galton at the Birmingham General Hospital." Hektoen International: A Journal of Medical Humanities. Online ed. Web. 23 May 2014.

Bettany, G. T., revised by Peter R. Fleming. "Joseph Hodgson (1788–1869)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Web. 23 May 2014.

"Death Of Mr. Joseph Hodgson, F.R.S." The Times. 11 February 1869: 12. Times Digital Archive. Web. 23 May 2014.

Deaths. The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent. 13 February 1869: 12. 19th Century British Library Newspapers: Part II. Web. 23 May 2014.

Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health (Seventh Ed.).

"Monument to John [sic] Hodgson in Highgate (Western) Cemetery, Camden." British Listed Buildings. Web. 23 May 2014.

Last modified 23 May 2014