Biography of Edward Jenner

Portrait of Edward Jenner

Edward Jenner was an eighteenth century doctor famous for discovering vaccination and penicillin.

When and Where was he Born?

17th May 1749, Berkeley, Gloucestershire, England.

Family Background:

Edward Jenner was the son of the Vicar of Berkeley who died when he was five.


Local grammar school. Apprenticed to a surgeon at Sodbury, near Bristol at the age of 13.

Timeline of Edward Jenner:

1762: Jenner is apprenticed to a surgeon at Sodbury, near Bristol.

1770: He goes to London to study under John Hunter.

1773: He returns to Berkeley where he establishes a large medical practice.

1775: Edward Jenner begins to experiment with cowpox, particularly thinking it could be a protection against smallpox.

1788: He marries Catherine Kingscote.

1796: He vaccinates the eight year old James Phipps with cowpox from the hands of the local milkmaid Sarah Nelmes. Then shows that the boy was protected from smallpox.

1798: His book “An Inquiry into the Causes and Effects of the Various Vaccinae” has to be published privately after being rejected by the scientific periodicals of the day.

1800: Although vaccination met with opposition over 70 physicians and surgeons signed that they were confident with the process. Within another three years vaccination was being practiced in many other parts of the world. Edward Jenner was awarded two grants by parliament to continue his work.

When and Where did he Die?

26th January 1823, Berkeley, Gloucestershire, England of a massive stroke.

Age at Death:


Written Works:

1798: “An Inquiry into the Causes and Effects of the Various Vaccinae”.


1788 to Catherine Kingscote.

Site of Grave:

St. Mary’s Church, Berkeley, Gloucestershire.

Places of Interest:


Edward Jenner Museum, The Chantry, Church Lane, Berkeley.


Lytes Carey (National Trust).

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