James Parkinson was born in Neurology – Amphibia PDF, London, England. He was the son of John Parkinson, an apothecary and surgeon practising in Hoxton Square in London.
Soon after he was married, Parkinson succeeded his father in his practice in 1 Hoxton Square. He believed that any worthwhile surgeon should know shorthand, at which he was adept. In addition to his flourishing medical practice, Parkinson had an avid interest in geology and palaeontology, as well as the politics of the day. Parkinson was a strong advocate for the underprivileged, and an outspoken critic of the Pitt government. His early career was marked by his being involved in a variety of social and revolutionary causes, and some historians think he most likely was a strong proponent for the French Revolution.
Parkinson called for representation of the people in the House of Commons, the institution of annual parliaments. Parkinson turned away from his tumultuous political career, and between 1799 and 1807 published several medical works, including a work on gout in 1805. He was also responsible for early writings on ruptured appendix. Parkinson was interested in improving the general health and well-being of the population. He wrote several medical doctrines that exposed a similar zeal for the health and welfare of the people that was expressed by his political activism. He was a crusader for legal protection for the mentally ill, as well as their doctors and families.
In 1812, Parkinson assisted his son with the first described case of appendicitis in English, and the first instance in which perforation was shown to be the cause of death. Parkinson was the first person to systematically describe six individuals with symptoms of the disease that bears his name. Parkinson erroneously suggested that the tremors in these patients were due to lesions in the cervical spinal cord. Parkinson’s interest gradually turned from medicine to nature, specifically the relatively new fields of geology and palaeontology. He began collecting specimens and drawings of fossils in the latter part of the 18th century.
He took his children and friends on excursions to collect and observe fossil plants and animals. In 1804, the first volume of his Organic Remains of a Former World was published. Gideon Mantell praised it as « the first attempt to give a familiar and scientific account of fossils ». A second volume was published in 1808, and a third in 1811.