Benjamin Travers

3rd Apr 1783 - 6th Mar 1858

Claimant or beneficiary


Awarded part of the compensation for the enslaved people on the Marble Hill estate on Antigua, almost certainly as a trustee of Caroline Ottley (nee Travers), Benjamin's sister and the wife of the Rev. John Bridges Ottley (ne Hooker).

  1. Surgeon. The ODNB erroneously gives him as the second of ten children of Joseph Travers, sugar baker in Queen Street, Cheapside, London, and his wife, a daughter of the Revd Francis Spilsbury. In fact his baptism record and that of his father show him to be the first of ten children of Benjamin Travers senior and his wife Mary, daughter of Rev. Francis Spilsbury. Benjamin Travers senior was the twin brother of Joseph Travers (both born 24/04/1752). The Joseph Travers who was a sugar baker in St Swithins Lane was the father of John and Joseph Travers (each of whom q.v.) who were awarded compensation for Harmony Hall in Trelawny, Jamaica, as trustees of their late father.


1809: to Sarah, daughter of William Morgan (1750–1833), actuary and founder of the Equitable Life Assurance Society.

1813: following death of Sarah, to Caroline Millet, daughter of an East India Company director.

1831: following death of Caroline, to Mary Poulett, youngest daughter of Colonel Stevens of Somerset.

He had a large family; eldest son Benjamin also in medicine.

Worked in his father's counting-house but found commerce uncongenial. His father frequently attended the lectures of the surgeons Henry Cline and Astley Paston Cooper; Travers was articled to Cooper in August 1800 for six years.

Admitted member of the Royal College of Surgeons 1806. After a period in Edinburgh, settled in London at the end of 1807 at New Court, St Swithin's Lane.

Appointed demonstrator of anatomy at Guy's Hospital,

1809-14: surgeon to the East India Company's warehouses and brigade.

Travers succeeded Astley Cooper at the London Infirmary for Diseases of the Eye (later Moorfields Eye Hospital), developing its resources as a teaching institution centre, with many students from England and abroad. Retained the post until 1816.

Elected surgeon to St Thomas's Hospital, London, 1815.

Held various positions in the Royal Society, the Hunterian Society, the Medical and Chirurgical Society, and in the Royal College of Surgeons: see Cultural Legacies.

Appointed surgeon ("Surgeon Extraordinary") to Queen Victoria in 1837 and to Prince Albert (as "Surgeon in Ordinary") in 1840. (Medico- Chirurgical Transactions).   Portrait of Travers by Richard James Lane (1800-1872; Sculptor and lithographer) after William Behnes (1794-1864; Sculptor); lithograph, (1834); 12 1/2 in. x 9 7/8 in.; National Portrait Gallery: NPG D21871.


  1., England & Wales, Non-Conformist and Non-Parochial Registers, 1567-1970;, London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921 [database online]. [Baptism records of Benjamin and Joseph in 1752?].

D'A. Power, ‘Travers, Benjamin (1783–1858)’, rev. Anita McConnell, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2004) [, accessed 13/08/2012]; Medico-Chirurgical Transactions, 23 (2nd series vol. 5), 1840 (London, Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society of London, 1840, p. xx.); the DNB entry does not add much to the obituary in the Gentleman's Magazine, 204 (Jan. - June 1858), p. 444 [April issue].

See also separate entries for John and Joseph Travers.

We are grateful to Julie Weizenegger and William Norton for their assistance in compiling this entry.

Further Information

Sarah (1809-12?); Caroline Millet (1813- ); Mary Poulett (1831- )
Benjamin (and others)
Cheshunt Grammar School, Hertfordshire; then taught privately until aged 16

Associated Claims (1)

£2,482 16s 2d

Legacies Summary

Commercial (1)

Firm Investment

Cultural (4)

Hunterian Society...... 
Medical and Chirurgical Society of London...... 
Royal College of Surgeons...... 
notes →
Travers admitted 1806; subsequently held a number of important posts in the Society: 1830: Member of the council in 1830 1833: Member of the veterinary examining committee 1838: Hunterian...
Royal Society...... 
notes →
For the full record of Travers's membership of the Royal Society see Royal...

Historical (1)

A Synopsis of the Diseases of the Eye, and their treatment: to which are prefixed a short anatomical description and a sketch of the physiology of that... 1820 
notes →
According to the entry in the Oxford DNB for Travers, this was one of the earliest systematic treatises in English. There were three English editions, an Italian translation in 1823,...

Imperial (1)

East India Company
notes →
Married Caroline Millet, daughter of an East India Company director. 1809-14: surgeon to the East India Company's warehouses and...

Relationships (3)

First Cousins
First Cousins
Nephew → Uncle