Addenbrooke came from a church family in Staffordshire and was admitted to St Catharine’s College, Cambridge in 1697.

He was a successful scholar, being elected a Fellow of the College in the year before he achieved his MA. It’s not clear how he entered medical studies, which were a very small element in Cambridge at that time, but he was teaching a small group of students from 1705. He became an extra-licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians in 1706, and took his own MD degree in 1712. He was observed to be a tall, thin man and, in his last years at least, of slightly odd habits.

Addenbrooke married a niece of the Master of St Catharine’s, which meant resigning his Fellowship, and he went to London to practice medicine, until prevented by ill health when still only in his mid-thirties. He retired to Buntingford where he died in 1719. He was buried in St Catharine’s College chapel, and left his medical library and instruments to the College.

In his will he left provision for the Hospital that was to bear his name. Cambridge had had no hospital since around 1500, despite proposals to establish one. The sick were the responsibility of their families, with the help of doctors and apothecaries, if they could afford them. If too poor or alone, they depended on their parish Overseers of the Poor for support. Addenbrooke left about £4000 ‘to hire, fit-up, purchase or erect a building fit for a small physical hospital for poor people’.

The Trustees of the fund, St Catharine’s, gradually obtained further support from the town and the University, and Addenbrooke’s Hospital was opened in Trumpington Street in 1766. It ran as a charitable trust, with donations and fund-raising events, until the advent of the National Health Service in 1948.

The original house, for up to 40 patients, was expanded several times on that site until moving around 1970 to its present site off Hills Road. It has become the focus for the Bio-Medical Campus being developed for a wide range of research institutes, as well as the University’s Clinical School for medical students.