National Records of Scotland

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Joseph Lister (1827-1912)

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Joseph Lister (1827-1912)

Surgeon and founder of a system of antiseptic surgery

Joseph Lister was born on 5 April 1827 at Upton House in Essex, the son of Joseph Jackson Lister FRS, wine merchant and microscopist, and Isabella Harris. He studied at University College, London where he won medals in anatomy, surgery and medicine. After a visit to Edinburgh in 1853 he settled in the city where he became assistant surgeon at the Royal Infirmary. In 1860 he moved to Glasgow where he continued his epidemiological research, leading in 1867 to the publication of a series of papers on his system of antiseptic surgery. Two years later he returned to Edinburgh until 1877 when he took a chair at King's College, London. He was elected president of the Royal Society in 1895 and raised to the peerage as Baron Lister of Lyme Regis in 1897. Joseph Lister died on 10 February 1912 at his home in Kent. His funeral was held at Westminster Abbey and he was buried at Hampstead Cemetery alongside his wife.

Marriage in 1856

Joseph Lister, 29, surgeon,  married Agnes Syme on 23 April 1856 at Millbank House. The entry in the statutory register of marriages for the district of Newington and Grange, in the burgh of Edinburgh, gives his address as 3 Rutland Street. The marriage took place at the bride's home and was solemnised after banns according to the forms of the Church of England. Her father, James Syme, was professor of clinical surgery in the University of Edinburgh.

Marriage entry for Joseph Lister

Marriage of Joseph Lister (99 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1856/685-2/19

1861 and 1871 Censuses

In 1861 Joseph Lister MB Lond FRCS, 34, professor of surgery in Glasgow University and practising as a surgeon, was enumerated at 17 Woodside Place, Glasgow. The census return for the parish of Barony shows that the household included his wife, Agnes, his cousin Marcus Beck, who was a medical student, and two servants.

1861 Census record for Joseph Lister

1861 Census record for Joseph Lister (36 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1861/644-8/61, page 22

In 1871 Joseph Lister, 43, Professor of Clinical Surgery, Edinburgh University, was enumerated at 9 Charlotte Square, Edinburgh. The census return for the parish of St George’s shows that the household included his wife and three servants. His place of birth is given as England.

1871 Census record for Joseph Lister

1871 Census record for Joseph Lister (51 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1871/685-1/64, page 11