James Stilwell surgeon

James Stilwell, surgeon 1763 – 1839

You’ve probably not heard of James Stilwell, but he was a founder member of the modern psychiatric medical discipline. When psychiatry was in its infancy he purchased a house called Moorcroft in Hillingdon, Middlesex (20 miles west of central London) and converted it to a private asylum. James was a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (there being no recognised psychiatric medical qualification at that time) and started a psychiatric dynasty whose children became prominent psychiatrists around London. Moorcroft was extended many times during their ownership.

The family sold the building to the local council in the early 1950’s, by which time the National Health Service and regulations had made it financially difficult to sustain a private asylum. James is directly descended from the land-owning family of Thursley. The house has since been extensively renovated and is a small-business centre.

If anyone is driving in the area of Heathrow Airport, they may come across “Stilwell Roundabout” on the Stockley Road (A408) near Stockley Park just north of the airport. It is named after the Stilwell family, and Moorcroft is a short distance away.

See the “Medical Stilwells” link in the Key Families in the menus above.