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Belchier, Johnlocked

(bap. 1706, d. 1785)
  • P. B. Austin
  • , revised by Michael Bevan

Belchier, John (bap. 1706, d. 1785), surgeon, the son of James Belchier, innkeeper and bailiff of Kingston, was born at Kingston, Surrey, and was baptized there on 5 March 1706. He entered Eton College as a king's scholar in 1716. On leaving school he was apprenticed to William Cheselden, head surgeon at St Thomas's Hospital, London. By perseverance Belchier became eminent in his profession, and in 1736 he was appointed surgeon to Guy's Hospital. In 1732 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society, and his name appears on the list of the council from 1769 to 1772. He contributed some papers to the society's Philosophical Transactions. On Belchier's retirement as surgeon of Guy's Hospital he was elected one of its governors, and also a governor of St Thomas's Hospital. He had an exaggerated reverence for the name of Guy, saying 'that no other man would have sacrificed £150,000 for the benefit of his fellow-creatures'.

In the Gentleman's Magazine for 1743 is the following story:

One Stephen Wright, who, as a patient, came to Mr. Belchier, a surgeon, in Sun Court, being alone with him in the room clapt a pistol to his breast, demanding his money. Mr. Belchier offered him two guineas, which he refused; but, accepting of six guineas and a gold watch, as he was putting them in his pocket Mr. Belchier took the opportunity to seize upon him, and, after a struggle, secured him.

GM, 1st ser., 13, 1743, 50

A stout but active man, Belchier died suddenly in Sun Court, Threadneedle Street, on 6 February 1785. His manservant had attempted to raise his master but was told 'No John—I am dying. Fetch me a pillow; I may as well die here as anywhere else' (Wilks and Bettany, 127). He was buried in the founder's vault in the chapel attached to Guy's Hospital.


  • GM, 1st ser., 55 (1785), 156
  • GM, 1st ser., 13 (1743), 50
  • D'A. Power, ‘Roubiliac, Cheselden, and Belchier’, BMJ (31 Oct 1931), 820
  • R. A. Austen-Leigh, ed., The Eton College register, 1698–1752 (1927)
  • S. C. Lawrence, Charitable knowledge: hospital pupils and practitioners in eighteenth-century London (1996)
  • S. Wilks and G. T. Bettany, A biographical history of Guy’s Hospital (1892)


  • attrib. O. Humphrey, oils, RCS Eng.
  • attrib. L. F. Roubiliac, terracotta bust, RCS Eng.
  • A. Walker, engraving (after O. Humphrey), Wellcome L.
British Medical Journal
Gentleman's Magazine