Sir Benjamin Collins Brodie, 1st Bart. (1783-1862), English physiologist and surgeon, was born in 1783 at Winterslow, Wiltshire. He received his early education from his father; then choosing medicine as his profession he went to London in 1801, and attended the lectures of John Abernethy. Two years later he became a pupil of Sir Everard Home at St George's hospital, and in 1808 was appointed assistant surgeon at that institution, on the staff of which he served for over thirty years. In 1810 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society, to which in the next four or five years he contributed several papers describing original investigations in physiology. At this period also he rapidly obtained a large and lucrative practice, and from time to time he wrote on surgical questions, contributing numerous papers to the Medical and Chirurgical Society, and to the medical journals. Probably his most important work is that entitled Pathological and Surgical Observations on the Diseases of the Joints, in which he attempts to trace the beginnings of disease in the different tissues that form a joint, and to give an exact value to the symptom of pain as evidence of organic disease.
This volume led to the adoption by surgeons of measures of a conservative nature in the treatment of diseases of the joints, with consequent reduction in the number of amputations and the saving of many limbs and lives. He also wrote on diseases of the urinary organs, and on local nervous affections of a surgical character. In 1854 he published anonymously a volume of Psychological Inquiries; to a second volume which appeared in 1862 his name was attached. He received many honours during his career. He attended George IV., was sergeant-surgeon to William IV. and Queen Victoria, and was made a baronet in 1834. He became a corresponding member of the French Institute in 1844, D.C.L. of Oxford in 1855, and president of the Royal Society in 1858, and he was the first president of the general medical council. He died at Broome Park, Surrey, on the 21st of October 1862. His collected works, with autobiography, were published in 1865 under the editorship of Charles Hawkins.
His eldest son, Sir Benjamin Collins Brodie, 2nd Bart. (1817-1880), was appointed professor of chemistry at Oxford in 1865, and is chiefly known for his investigations on the allotropic states of carbon and for his discovery of graphitic acid.