Burton, Francis (d. 1828), medical doctor, was born in Tuam, Co. Galway. He was apprenticed to a surgeon in Belfast on leaving school, and later worked in Dublin hospitals before entering the army as an assistant surgeon (May 1805). He became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1819 and received an MD from Edinburgh University the following year. An appointment (December 1819) to the 66th Foot in St Helena brought him into contact with Napoleon, who was in poor health. Burton arrived on the island 31 March 1821, but was not consulted on the illness that caused Napoleon's death (5 May 1821). He was one of five Irish doctors who attended Napoleon during his exile on St Helena, the others being Walter Henry (qv), Barry O'Meara (qv), George Rutledge, and James Verling (qv). Burton observed Napoleon's post-mortem, and organised and executed the making of a mould from which the death mask was cast. This distinction and the artefact itself were almost immediately appropriated by the Corsican Dr Antommarchi, and the minor but protracted controversy that ensued was not resolved until Lord Rosebery vindicated Burton in his Napoleon: the last phase (1900). On leaving St Helena, Burton was assigned to the 12th Lancers (1825). He died from a haemorrhage in his lungs in 1828 at his Park Lane home in London. He was survived by his wife, Sarah Baker of Hertfordshire, whom he had married in 1825, and two infant daughters. His nephew was the famous explorer Sir Richard Burton (1821–90), translator of the ‘Arabian nights’.
D. J. Wilson, ‘Napoleon's doctors on St Helena: the Irish five’, Ir. Jn. Med. Sci., cxl, no. 1 (1971), 30–44; J. B. Lyons, Brief lives of Irish doctors (1978), 23