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William Farr

William Farr CB (30 November 1807 – 14 April 1883) was a British epidemiologist, regarded as one of the founders of medical statistics.

Early life

He was born in Kenley, Shropshire, to poor parents. He was effectively adopted by a local squire, Joseph Pryce, when Farr and his family moved to Dorrington. In 1826 he took a job as a dresser (surgeon's assistant) in the Salop Infirmary in Shrewsbury and served a nominal apprenticeship to an apothecary. Pryce died in November 1828, and left Farr £500 (equivalent to £43,100 in 2019), which allowed him to study medicine in France and Switzerland.[1] In Paris he heard Pierre Charles Alexandre Louis lecture.[2]

Farr returned to England in 1831 and continued his studies at University College London, qualifying as a licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries in March 1832. He married in 1833 and started a medical practice in Fitzroy Square, London. He became involved in medical journalism and statistics.[1]

General Register Office

William Farr, about 1850

In 1837 the General Register Office (GRO) took on the responsibility for the United Kingdom Census 1841. Farr was hired there, initially on a temporary basis to handle data fro

William Farr CB (30 November 1807 – 14 April 1883) was a British epidemiologist, regarded as one of the founders of medical statistics.