Born in 1784, Henry Warburton was the son of a timber merchant. He was educated at Eton College and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was known as a “scholar and a man of science”. After university, he worked in the timber trade. In 1809, he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society and his passion for science and politics influenced the rest of his life e.
Warburton was first elected as an MP in 1826 as a radical fo or Bridport. He was a hard-working politician who campaigned on various causes including bankruptcy and the Anti-Corn Law League. But it was as a spokesman for medical reformers that Warburton made his mark.
In 1828, he persuaded the House of Commons to establish a select committee on anatomy, which investigated the supply of cadavers for dissection and bodysnatching. Warburton was keen to “bring science to the poor man’s door” and improve the domestic conditions of the impoverished through better medical care and surgical skills. He wrote the committee’s report but his first anatomy bill failed to get through Parliament. After reintroducing a simplified version, the Anatomy Act was finally passed in 1832. Henry Warburton retired from politics in 1847 and died in 1858.