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William Moorcroft's plauqe in Shalimar Gardens, Lahore, where Moorcroft stayed in May 1820

William Moorcroft (1767 – 27 August 1825) was an English veterinarian and explorer employed by the East India Company. Moorcroft travelled extensively throughout the Himalayas, Tibet and Central Asia, eventually reaching Bukhara, in present-day Uzbekistan.

Early life and education

Moorcroft was born in Ormskirk, Lancashire, the illegitimate son of Ann Moorcroft, daughter of a local farmer.[1] He was baptised in 1767 in St Peter & St Paul, the Parish Church of Ormskirk, where there is a commemorative plaque to his life. His family had sufficient means to secure an apprenticeship with a surgeon in Liverpool but during this time an unknown disease decimated cattle herds in Lancashire and young William was recruited to treat stricken animals. His proficiency so impressed the county landowners they offered to underwrite his education if he would abandon surgery to attend a veterinarian college in Lyon, France. He arrived in France in the revolutionary year of 1789 and became the first Englishman to qualify as a veterinary surgeon. On completing his course he began practice in London, established a "hospital for horses" on Oxford Street, helped found the first British veterinary college, proposed new surgical methods for curing lameness in horses, and acquired four patents on machines to manufacture horseshoes.[1] In 1795, Moorcroft published a pamphlet of directions for the medical treatment of horses, with special reference to India, and in 1800 a Cursory Account of the Methods of Shoeing Horses.[2]

Career

Superintendent of stud

In 1803 a citizen army was mobilised to defend Britain against a threatened Napoleonic invasion. Moorcroft joined the Westminster Volunteer Cavalry. His activities with the volunteers brought him to the attention of Edward Parry, a director of the East India Company (EIC). Parry recruited Moorcroft to manage the Company stud in Bengal.[1] In 1808 Moorcroft left the comforts of his home and the security of his thriving practice for Calcutta, India, the seat of British rule.

William Moorcroft (1767 – 27 August 1825) was an English veterinarian and explorer employed by the East India Company. Moorcroft travelled extensively throughout the Himalayas, Tibet and Central Asia, eventually reaching Bukhara, in present-day Uzbekistan.