Born at Killerton, Devon. Educated at Harrow and Christ Church, Oxford. Studied medicine at St George's Hospital and Edinburgh. All Souls fellowship 1842, Lee's reader in anatomy at Christ Church 1846; BM 1846.
Physician at the Radcliffe Infirmary 1847. Aldrichian professor of clinical medicine 1851. Radcliffe librarian at Oxford. Fellow of the Royal Society. Regius chair of medicine at Oxford 1857. Founded the Oxford University Museum 1860; curator of the university galleries and the Bodleian Library. Private practice in Oxford. Oxford's first representative on the General Medical Council 1858; president of the council 1874-1887. Harveian orator 1867. Baronet in 1890.
Married Sarah Cotton, daughter of William Cotton, FRS, in 1846; they had seven sons (including T.D. Acland, FRCP) and one daughter. Died 16 Oct 1900 at Oxford.