Today the 8th June is the anniversary of the death Dr John Addenbrooke, the founder of Addenbrooke’s Hospital. He died in 1719 at the age of 39 at his home in Buntingford.
Not much is known about Addenbrooke himself, but there is a description of him written by his servant, Mary Collis, she said he was ‘tall and thin, of studious bearing and he wore a wig’! Before his death he ordered the burning of all his personal papers and as he was supposed to have been skilled in necromancy he foretold the day and hour of his death!!
He was not wealthy; but he had inherited a share of his maternal uncle’s, Humphrey Perry, estate. John Addenbrooke in his will left his money, £4,500 to his widow Susan but she only outlived him be six months. So the residue was to be used ‘to hire, fit-up, purchase or erect a building fit for a small physical hospital for poor people.’
Why he did this can only be surmised. Maybe it was as a result of his medical practice where he may have seen the inadequacy of the parish relief for the poor and sick and he wanted to found a voluntary hospital as was being done in London. As a result of his legacy Addenbrooke’s Hospital was one of the first provisional voluntary hospitals and opened in 1766.