AIM To trace the concept that the cerebral cortex is the site of epileptogenesis before Hughlings Jackson published the idea in 1870 in the paper "A study of convulsions" which marks the beginning of modern epileptology. METHOD Perusal of 19th century English language medical literature. RESULT The existence of cortical epileptogenesis was postulated by Richard Bright in 1831 and 1836, touched on by Robert Bentley Todd in 1849, and rediscovered independently by Samuel Wilks in 1866. Wilks's idea probably became known to both John Thompson Dickson and John Hughlings Jackson and was then developed further, particularly by Jackson. CONCLUSION The thought of Samuel Wilks probably played a more important role in the origins of modern epileptology than has sometimes been appreciated.