Richard Partridge FRS FRCS (1805-1873)
Surgeon who turned in London bodysnatchers
In 1831, while working as a demonstrator of anatomy at King's College, Richard Partridge was offered the suspiciously fresh body of a teenage boy for dissection. Partridge alerted the police and the ‘London Burkers’ (so-called after the Scottish bodysnatchers Burke and Hare) were arrested and brought to trial. The public outcry about the case led to the passing of the Anatomy Act of 1832. This allowed the bodies of paupers unclaimed by relatives to be supplied to medical schools for dissection.
Partridge was appointed surgeon at the newly established King’s College Hospital in 1840, colleague to the more famous William Fergusson. In the autumn of 1862, Partridge was asked to examine the Italian general Guiseppe Garibaldi, who had been shot in the ankle. He was unable to detect the bullet, which was later found and removed by colleagues.