Sir George Murray Humphry, M.D., F.R.S.

Sir George Murray Humphry
Honorary Freeman of Sudbury, born in Sudbury, who never lost his love of the town.

2020 will mark the bicentenary of the birth of Sir George Murray Humphry. He was a famous old boy of Sudbury Grammar School and his name was commemorated in one of the School Houses as well as in Humphry Road, Sudbury.

Anthony R. Wheeler wrote a short biography of Sir George Murray Humphry which has been reproduced by kind permission of the Sudbury Grammar School Old Boys’ Association.

Hardwicke House, home of the Humphry family, dates from the 17th century.

Humphry was born in 1820 in Stour Street, Sudbury, the son of William Wood Humphry. His younger twin brothers died young. His elder brother became Prebendary of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Rector of St. Martin in the Fields. George was educated at Sudbury Grammar School of which it is recorded that “he always had a pleasing remembrance and spoke in the highest terms”.

He was apprenticed at the age of sixteen to J.G. Crosse, Surgeon at Norwich, where he studied at the hospital, and later, at St. Bartholomew’s. He took his M.D. degree at Cambridge in 1856. Ten years later he was appointed Professor of Anatomy there, and in 1883, Professor of Surgery. He held many University appointments, was Fellow of King’s, and of Downing, Colleges, and Senior Surgeon at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. He wrote many medical books and articles. He was fellow of the Royal Society and knighted in 1891.

The Rose and Crown, Sudbury. Image from the Historic Photo Archive for Sudbury.

Humphry maintained his interest in Sudbury, making the Rose and Crown Hotel the base for his visits. In 1893 he was granted the Honorary Freedom of Sudbury. He presented to the Borough a portrait of himself by his niece, Miss Kate Maude Humphry. This now hangs in the Mayor’s Parlour at the Town Hall. At the same time, he presented portraits of his friend Alderman George Andrewes, sometime Mayor, and of his grandfather, Joseph, also Mayor.

(The portraits of Sir George Murray Humphry, George William Andrewes and Joseph Humphry by Katharine Maude Humphry are displayed in the Mayor’s Parlour, Sudbury Town Hall.)

Among representatives at Humphry’s funeral in King’s College Chapel on September 29th, 1896, were Revd. W.G. Normandale, Headmaster of Sudbury Grammar School, and the Mayor of Sudbury. Humphry was buried in Mill Road Cemetery, Cambridge.

King’s College, Cambridge