Sir Joseph Barcroft (1872 - 1947) MP

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Death: Died
Managed by: June Barnes
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About Sir Joseph Barcroft

Sir Joseph Barcroft was born on 26 July 1872 Newry, County Down. He was the son of Henry Barcroft and Anna Richardson Malcomson - the 2nd of 5 children- a Quaker family originally from Lancashire. Henry Barcroft was of The Glen, Newry - a property purchased for them by his (Sir Joseph's) mother's uncle, John Grubb Richardson and adjoining his own estate in Bessbrook.

  • He married Mary Agnetta Ball, daughter of Sir Robert Stawell Ball and Frances Elizabeth Steele, on 5 August 1903.
  • He died on 21 March 1947 at age 74.

In the course of his research, he did not hesitate to use himself as a test subject. For example, during the First World War, when he was called to Royal Engineers Experimental Station (near Salisbury) to carry out experiments on asphyxiating gas, he exposed himself to an atmosphere of poisonous hydrogen cyanide. On another occasion he remained for seven days in a glass chamber in order to calculate the minimum quantity of oxygen required for the survival of the human organism, and another time he exposed himself to such a low temperature that he collapsed into unconsciousness.

He also studied the physiology of oxygenation at extreme altitudes, and for this purpose he organized expeditions to the peak of Tenerife (1910), to Monte Rosa (1911), and to the Peruvian Andes (1922). Between 1902 and 1905 he was a Governor of Leighton Park School, the Quaker School in Reading. From 1925 to 1937 he held the chair of physiology at Cambridge. His final research, begun in 1933, concerned fetal respiration.

  • Barcroft (widely known as "JB") received his early schooling at home until he was twelve. He had two tutors: Miss Day, later principal of Ladies' Intermediate School, Trevor Hill, Newry, taught him arithmetic and Latin, and Miss Barritt, a Quaker from Croydon, who was a resident governess who taught him science subjects. 
  • He was initially educated at Bootham School, the Friends school at York (1884) and later at The Leys School, Cambridge.
  • While still a schoolboy he was awarded a BSc (London, 1891).
  • He graduated from King's College, Cambridge University, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, with a Master of Arts (M.A.).
  • He was educated at Bootham School, York, Yorkshire, England.
  • He was educated at Leys School, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England.
  • He graduated from London University, London, England, with a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.).
  • He was invested as a Fellow, Royal Society (F.R.S.) in 1910.2
  • He was invested as a Commander, Order of the British Empire (C.B.E.) in 1918.
  • He was a Fellow and sometimes a lecturer at King's College, Cambridge University, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England.
  • He was decorated with the award of Royal Medal in 1922.
  • He was decorated with the award of Baly Medal of the Royal College of Physicians in 1923.
  • He was a Professor of Physiology between 1926 and 1937 at Cambridge University, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England.
  • He was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Science (Sc.D.) by Trinity College, Dublin University, Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland.
  • He was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) by Queen's University, Belfast, County Antrim, Ireland.
  • He was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) by Louvain University, Louvain, Belgium.
  • He was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) by Sofia, Bulgaria.
  • He was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) by Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A..
  • He was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) by National University of Ireland, Ireland.
  • He was invested as a Knight Bachelor in 1935.
  • In 1936 he was nominated, unsuccessfully, by Professor Arthur Dighton Stammers, Professor of Physiology in the University of the Witwatersrand, for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, for his work on the respiratory function of the blood and the functions of the spleen.
  • He was invested as a Fellow, Royal Society of Edinburgh (F.R.S.E.).
  • He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1938.
  • During the first years of the Second World War he was summoned to Porton Down to consult on chemical weapons.
  • He was Director of the Unit of Animal Physiology, Agricultural Research Council between 1941 and 1947.
  • He was decorated with the award of Copley Medal in 1944.
  • He was invested as a Fellow, Royal College of Obstreticians and Gynaecologists (F.R.C.O.G.).
  • He was the author of numerous papers on physiological subjects.

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Sir Joseph Barcroft's Timeline

1872
July 26, 1872
1903
1903
Age 30
1904
October 18, 1904
Age 32
Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England
1947
March 21, 1947
Age 74