CollectionGB 0231 University of Aberdeen, Special Collections
Ref NoMS 3051/3/2/7
Title'Sir James McGrigor, his monument': Aberdeen Press & Journal
Extent1 item
Administrative HistoryJames McGrigor was born in Cromdale near Inverness on the 9th April 1771. He was educated in Aberdeen and graduated MA from Marischal College in 1788. He then studied medicine in Edinburgh and Aberdeen becoming an apprentice at the infirmary under George French (1765 - 1833). During this time, he and eleven other students founded the Aberdeen Medico-Chirurgical Society to compensate for the lack of medical teaching offered by both Kings and Marischal Colleges. He gained his MD from Marischal College in 1804.

He then spent some time studying in London before purchasing the post of surgeon in the 88th or Connaught Rangers in 1793. During the first part of his army career, he served in Flanders, the West Indies, Bombay, Ceylon, Egypt and in the Horseguards in Canterbury and Windsor; in 1805 he became one of the deputy inspectors-general of hospitals, initially based in Northern England before moving to Southern England; in 1809, he was ordered to Waldcharen (in modern Holland) where the British camp was under water and 3,000 men had malaria; in August of that year he was appointed inspector-general of hospitals; in 1811, he as appointed Chief of the Medical Staff of the Peninsular Army, serving under Wellington, where he served until the end of the war in 1814 when he retired and was knighted.

Later in 1814, he was appointed director general of the Army Medical Department. He held this post until his eventual retirement in 1851. During this time, he was responsible for several key developments including the institution of the practice of medical reporting from all medical stations; the provision of assistance to widows and dependents; research into aspects of army health; the development of chairs of military medicine in Edinburgh and Dublin; an improved system of selection of men seeking commissions in the medical services; won the honour of Royal commissions in medical services and founded the Museum of Natural History and Pathological Anatomy at Fort Pitt, Chatham.

During his career, he was loaded with honours including the freedom of the cities of Aberdeen and Edinburgh; he became a Fellow of the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Edinburgh; he was a Fellow of the Colleges of Physicians in London and Edinburgh; he received an honorary LLD from the University of Edinburgh; he was the Honorary Physician to the Queen; he was Rector at Marischal College three times between 1826 and 1841; he was created a baronet in 1831 and received a KCB in 1850.

He retired in 1851 and died on 2 April 1858.
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