John Beddoe

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John Beddoe

John Beddoe.jpg
Born(1826-09-21)21 September 1826
Died19 July 1911(1911-07-19) (aged 84)
Alma materUniversity College, London;
Edinburgh University
John Beddoe (far left) with other Residents at the Old Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, including his friends David Christison, Joseph Lister, and Patrick Heron Watson
John Beddoe's grave, Dean Cemetery

John Beddoe FRS FRAI (21 September 1826 – 19 July 1911) was one of the most prominent English ethnologists in Victorian Britain.


Beddoe was born in Bewdley, Worcestershire, and educated at University College, London (BA (London)) and Edinburgh University (M.D. 1853). He served in the Crimean War alongside David Christison[1] and was a physician at Bristol Royal Infirmary from 1862 to 1873.[2] He and his wife were both friends with Mary Carpenter and they hosted what was said to be the first women's suffrage meeting in 1868. Invitees included a young Annie Leigh Browne.[3] Beddoe retired from practice in Bristol in 1891.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1873.[4] In 1887 he was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society.[5] He was a founder of the Ethnological Society and president of the Anthropological Institute from 1889 to 1891.[2]

He died at Bradford-on-Avon on 19 July 1911.[2] He is buried in the northern section of Dean Cemetery in Edinburgh towards the western end.


In 1858, he married Agnes Montgomerie Cameron (d.1914), granddaughter of Prof Alexander Christison and niece of Robert Christison.[2] She was the sister of his friend Dr David Christison.


He believed that eye and hair colour were valuable evidence in the origins of the British people. He wrote The Races of Britain: A Contribution to the Anthropology of Western Europe, (1862) which was re-published in 1862, 1885, 1905 and 1971. Beddoe wrote in his work that all geniuses tended to be "orthognathous" (that is, have receding jaws) while the Irish and the Welsh were "prognathous" (have large jaws). Beddoe also maintained that Celts were similar to Cromagnon man, and Cromagnon man was similar to the "Africanoid" race. Celts in Beddoe's "Index of Negrescence" are very different from Anglo-Saxons.

Beddow gave the Rhind Lectures in 1891, on 'The Anthropological History of Europe'.[6]


  1. ^ The Crimean Doctors by John Shepherd
  2. ^ a b c d James 1912.
  3. ^ Jane Martin, ‘Browne, Annie Leigh (1851–1936)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 12 Jan 2017
  4. ^ "Library and Archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  5. ^ American Antiquarian Society Members Directory
  6. ^ "List of 133 Lecturers". The Rhind Lectures. Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2010.