Dr. Willoughby Marshall Burslem (1818 - 1889)

Individual Information

Birth: May 1818 (2)

Christening: 23 Jun 1818 - St. Thomas', Portsmouth, Hampshire (3)

Death: 26 May 1889 - Bournemouth, Hampshire (4)

Burial: 1889 - St Peter's, Bournemouth (2)

Cause of Death:


Life Events

* He was employed between 1837 and 1839 (5)

 * He received a degree of MD in 1839 from the University of Edinburgh. (5)

* He was admitted as a Resident Fellow of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh on May 10 1839 and remained as a member until at least 1885. (6)

* He travelled in 1841-1842 in France. (5)

* Professional Memberships: Licentiate, the Royal College of Physicians, 30 Sep 1846. (7)

* Professional Memberships: Member of the Royal College of Surgeons, 1849. (2)

* He was the physician at the Surrey dispensary, Union St, before 1852 in London, England. (8)

* Publications: He authored a book " Pulmonary Consumption and its Treatment", Abt 1852, London, England. (5)

The following is a transcription of the Preface that gives his own account of his medical career.


In the present advanced state of pathological science, when nought but that which bears the impress of profound pathological lore stands any chance of pleasing the professional public, I already anticipate an objection, sure to be raised to the following pages, by an inquiry whether the author has promulgated any new views on the origin, nature, and character, of Tubercular Consumption, but, above all, whether he has made any new discovery regarding the pathological anatomy and treatment

of this truly formidable disease. I must, however, lay aside all pretension to having accomplished any such transcendent feat as this. Many distinguished men have laboured, and successfully so, at these truly interesting points of inquiry. Bayle, Laennec, Louis, and Andral, on the Continent, have led the way in this investigation. Nor have our own countrymen been remiss ; we need but mention the names of Clark, Hope, Forbes, Williams, Stokes, Graves, with several others, who have contributed largely to the elucidation of all the particularities of tubercular deposits. Believing that these highly gifted men have accomplished much that was left undone regarding the nature of such deposits, I have selected a much more humble and less aspiring, though, perhaps, not less useful task, in the department I have chosen.

At an early period of my professional career, I was forcibly struck by the want of success in the treatment of phthisis: I thought it a subject well worthy of careful investigation, whether there existed in the disease any thing of that nature as to preclude the chance or possibility of cure ; at the commencement of my inquiry, the results of my investigation were decidedly startling and unsatisfactory. The many fatal cases that presented themselves in the various hospitals which I had an opportunity of visiting, both at home and abroad, were calculated to lead me to believe that Pulmonary Consumption was an affection quite removed from the reach or influence of any means of cure which we possess. Not daunted, however, by my previous inquiries, I determined on making my researches in the more responsible character of Physician to some Public Institution. For this purpose, I obtained the appointment of Physician to the Blenheim Street Dispensary; afterwards to the Chelsea, Brompton, and Belgrave; subsequently to the Surrey; and, lastly, to the Margaret Street Dispensary for Diseases of the Chest. Here, indeed, a wide field for practice in this particular class of diseases, in which I had taken so deep an interest, presented itself. I was, therefore, fully determined to avail myself of all the advantages thus offered me.

From my first entrance on the arduous duties of medical officer, I resolved to pay particular regard to the earliest and most remote period in the history of the case. For this purpose, I directed serious attention to hereditary predispositions to disease ; and wherever I found such to exist, I assiduously directed my efforts to combat this influence. I took advantage of the field now opened to me, of trying, under well regulated restrictions, certain methods of treatment formerly resorted to in certain cases, but which I found to be now discontinued: or what reason I know not. It was thus, with the assistance of my friend Dr. Ross, that I took up the subject of emetics, from which I have since derived so much assistance in certain conjunctures of this disease. In the treatment of pulmonary affections in the male subject, I found myself agreeably surprised at the happy results which thus attended my incipient efforts. I continued my exertions in the same course with even increased success. But if this newly adopted plan of proceeding proved so successful in arresting the disease in the male subjects, how much more satisfactory was it demonstrated in the management and treatment of pulmonary disease in the case of females.

Here, from the more complicated nature of the female economy, a more strict investigation, a more detailed examination into many particulars became necessary, which ever exert a most important influence on the delicate constitution of the female. How often have I found myself succeed in arresting the first or dawning inroads of Pulmonary Consumption by directly attending to these apparently unimportant deviations in the periodical changes which occur in all healthy females, and on the normal, healthy, and regular performance of which function so much depends with respect to the well being of the other sex, that we now cease to feel any surprise at the remark of that physiologist who said, Propter uterum faemina est id quod est. It cannot be impressed too strongly upon the minds of medical men generally the absolute necessity of examining into even the slightest change or deviation in the female economy, as irregularities in this respect conduce, in a great measure, to accelerate a predisposition to Pulmonary Consumption.

A cursory inspection of a few of the cases in this book, will show that I have been able to effect this, by attending to this department. Here, too, is ample opportunity displayed for testing the value and importance of cod oil, and of re-adopting the long discarded mode of treatment formerly in use, namely by emetics.

3, Upper Grosvenor Street, Grosvenor Square, October, 1852.

* He was a Physician, in practice 1858 To 1865 in Bournemouth, Hampshire. (9)

* Professional Memberships: Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, 1858. (7)

* In 1861-1871 he lived at Eagles Crest, Exeter Rd in Christchurch, Hants (10)

* He was a shareholder in National Provincial Bank in 1876-1880 in London, England. (11)

* In 1881 he lived 6 Catherine Place, in Bath, Somerset (12)

* His obituary was published in the British Medical Journal on 15 Jun 1889  in London, England. (5)

* He had an estate proved at £7,094 1s 9d on 19 Jul 1889 in London, England. (13)




Father: James Godolphin Burslem (Abt 1780-1861)

Mother: Nancy Dent (Abt 1781-1854)


Spouses and Children


1. *Caroline Belinda Butler - Browne (31 Mar 1829 - 1 Oct 1923) (14)

Marriage: 29 Sep 1853 - St George's, Hanover Square, London (15)



Death Notes:


Last week we recorded the death of Dr. Falls of Bournemouth, who died on May 22nd, and we have this week the painful duty of recording the death of Dr. Willoughby Marshall Burslem, also of Bournemouth, who died on the 25th of the same month. It is curious to note in the history of this conspicuous health-resort, that prior to 1856, there were but two medical men residing in the place, Mr Algie, L.S.A. and Dr. Mannering a graduate of the University of Glasgow. Dr. Mannering died in 1856 and Mr. Algie was for a time the sole practitioner in this now popular watering-place. The number of practitioners there in the present year, according to Churchill's Directory amounts to sixty or more. In 1857 Mr. Falls - who at that time was Member of the College of Surgeons, and who subsequently obtained a degree in Medicine - commenced practice in Bournemouth, and in 1858 Dr. Burslem. Dr. Burslem had previously been in practice in London, and resided in Grosvenor Street; but in this year the state of his wife's health and of his own induced him to leave town in search of a locality more suited to both of them.

About this period it had been suggested that the Brompton Hospital for Consumption might with advantage find in the locality of Bournemouth a sanatorium for some of their patients. A site was offered to the hospital and accepted; and this action gave rise to a felling that Bournemouth was specially suitable for cases of chest disease. After a brief interval the

connection with the Brompton Hospital ceased to exist, the Sanitorium maintaining an independent existence. However, the fact of the recognition by the Brompton Hospital medical staff of the value of Bournemouth, and the ability of the medical staff of the Sanitorium encouraged and supported the reputation of the locality, and led to the position which it occupies at the present day, whilst the population has increased from 300 to 30,000. to this result the high professional reputation and personal character of Dr. Burslem, together with those of Dr. Falls, contributed largely.

Dr. Burslem graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1839, after having served as a dresser and a house physician in the royal Infirmary for a period of two years. In the years 1841 and 1842 he visited the Continent, and studied in Paris with great success. In 1842 he returned to London. In 1846 he became a member of the Royal College of Physicians, of which College he was elected a Fellow in 1856.

Dr. Burslem served the offices of physician to the Chelsea, Brompton and Belgrave Dispensary, and to the Margaret Street Dispensary for Diseases of the Chest. He wrote a work on pulmonary consumption and its treatment, the result of close and multiplied observations of cases of this disease. He advocated attention to the constitutional nature of the malady, more especially with relation to the connection of menstrual irregularity of young females. He also brought forward many cases in evidence of the successful treatment of the disease in its earliest stages by emetics. This work was received with considerable favour by the profession, and no doubt, had Dr. Burslem chosen to remain in London, he would have obtained a high position amongst practical physicians. The circumstances that we have already mentioned induced him to change his residence to Bournemouth, where Dr. Falls had arrived a year before. Dr. Burslem immediately devoted himself to extending the usefulness of the locality. The result has been that the little village of the past has grown into a town with a large population, and seeks to obtain the services of a mayor and corporation. To this result the energy and high character of Dr. Burslem have contributed largely. He might have done more, but unfortunately, some eighteen years ago, he met with an accident getting out of his carriage. He received a concussion of the spine, from the effects of which he never recovered. The last two years of his life have been marked by much suffering, borne with patient resignation. Dr. Burslem was a man of the utmost kindness of disposition, of courtly manners, and tender sympathy with suffering. His departure from London to settle at Bournemouth was much regretted, but those of his friends who bade adieu to him there have the satisfaction of feeling that the village home that he then sought has grown, under his influence, into an important town.


1. Brigadier General F.G.Marsh C.M.G,D.S.O, The Godolphins (Privately Printed

MCMXXX (1930)), page 63/64.

2. Brigadier General F.G.Marsh C.M.G,D.S.O, The Godolphins (Privately Printed

MCMXXX (1930)), Page 64.

3. Brigadier General F.G.Marsh C.M.G,D.S.O, The Godolphins (Privately Printed

MCMXXX (1930)), Page 63. .... Federation of Family History Societies

website, Search for Burslem. Hampshire Baptisms.

4. Brigadier General F.G.Marsh C.M.G,D.S.O, The Godolphins (Privately Printed

MCMXXX (1930)), Page 64. .... Ancestry.co.uk, England & Wales, National

Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations),1861-1941 [database

on-line]. Search for Willoughby Marshall Burslem.

5. Obituary,(Edition of June 15 1889) page 1384.

6. Transactions and Proceedings of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh, Volume 7

- list of members.

7. Brigadier General F.G.Marsh C.M.G,D.S.O, The Godolphins (Privately Printed

MCMXXX (1930)), Page 64. .... Obituary,(Edition of June 15 1889) page


8. (published by John Churchill,46 Princes St, Soho, London), Volume 4 new

series, Jan 3 - Jun 26 1852.

9. www.historicaldirectories.org, Harrod's Directory of Hampshire and IOW 1865

page 629. .... www.historicaldirectories.org, Directory of Hampshire and

the IOW 1859.

10. UK Census (Various), 1861 and 1871 Censuses.

11. Historical Newspapers, British Library - British Newspapers 1800 - 1900.

The Ipswich Journal (Ipswich, England), Saturday, February 19, 1876; Issue

7397. .... Historical Newspapers, British Library - British Newspapers

1800 - 1900. The Newcastle Courant etc (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England),

Friday, February 20, 1880; Issue 10703.

12. UK Census (Various), 1881 Census.

13. Ancestry.co.uk, England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills

and Administrations),1861-1941 [database on-line]. Search for Willoughby

Marshall Burslem.

14. Ancestry.co.uk, England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills

and Administrations),1861-1941 [database on-line]. Search for Caroline

Belinda Burslem. 1923.

15. Gentleman's Magazine, Search for Burslem.