CollectionGB 0231 University of Aberdeen, Special Collections
Ref NoMS 3850
TitleSir Alexander Ogston, surgeon: personal and family papers
Date1793 - c.2010
Extent16 boxes and 1 rolled item: 3 linear metres
Creator NameOgston; Sir Alexander (1844-1929); Regius Professor of Surgery, University of Aberdeen
Ogston; Francis (bap. 1803, d. 1887); Professor of Medical Jurisprudence, University of Aberdeen
Ogston; Walter Henry (1873 - 1957)
Ogston; Josephine Elizabeth (1886-1962)
Administrative HistorySir Alexander Ogston (1844-1929) was Regius Professor of Surgery, University of Aberdeen, 1882-1909. He was born at Ogston's Court, 84 Broad Street, Aberdeen, on 19 April 1844, the elder son of Francis Ogston (bap. 1803, d. 1887), physician and professor of medical jurisprudence at Aberdeen University, and his wife Amelia Cadenhead (d.1852). Ogston attended Marischal College, Aberdeen (1859-1865), where he graduated MB CM in 1865 and MD in 1866.

From 1865-1873 he was an assistant to his father in his general practice in Aberdeen. During this time he was appointed joint medical officer of health for Aberdeen (1868-1872) and was put in charge of the smallpox isolation hospital in Aberdeen in 1872. He was also appointed ophthalmic surgeon at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary in 1868, becoming a junior surgeon in 1870, acting surgeon in 1874, senior surgeon from 1880-1898 and finally consulting surgeon thereafter. His other posts during this period included lecturer in practical ophthalmology at the University of Aberdeen in 1869 before his appointment in 1882 as regius professor of surgery in 1882.

Ogston was influenced by and believed in Lister's methods (Joseph Lister, Baron Lister (1827 - 1912), surgeon and founder of a system of antiseptic surgery). He was a member of the Aberdeen Medico-Chirurgical Society (see AMCS) and was appointed its President in 1905.

Military Career:
Ogston's career as a military surgeon began with his involvement in the war in Egypt in 1885. He served on the hospital ship 'Ganges' before joining the first bearer company, helping to treat the wounded at Hasheen and Suakin, resulting in the award of the Egyptian campaign medal and Khedive's bronze star. As vice-president of the surgical section of the British Medical Association his criticism of the medical care afforded the British forces during the campaign led to difficulties in obtaining a posting to the front during the Boer War of 1899-1900. However, a direct appeal to Queen Victoria allowed him to take an active part in the war. Ogston departed from Aberdeen on the 15 December 1899, with introductions from Queen Victoria, to join the Army in South Africa, returning from the war in July 1900.

He also served during the First World War in Serbia and Italy, despite being over seventy years old by this time. Ogston volunteered to serve in the Southall Auxiliary Military Hospital as operating surgeon during the winter of 1914-15. On the 12 March 1915 Ogston agreed to take charge of the British Belgrade Auxiliary Hospital [a hospital detachment for the British Naval Force on the Danube], leaving for Serbia on the 25th March. He returned home in July 1915. In September 1916 Ogston volunteered his services for a second time when he was appointed surgeon with the 1st British Ambulance Unit in Italy. He returned to Aberdeen on furlough for a short period in September 1917, returning to Italy in November only to find that the hospital had been destroyed. He returned home on the 22 November 1917, receiving the award of the Silver Star.

Ogston married Mary Jane Hargrave (1848-1873), daughter of James Hargrave of Stoke Newington, chief factor of the Hudson Bay Company, in London in September 1867; they had two sons and two daughters. Mary Letitia Ogston (1868-1937) married Sir Herbert Grierson (1866-1960), first Professor of English at the University of Aberdeen (1894-1915), in 1896. Francis Hargrave Ogston (b.1869) was killed in action during the Boer War. Flora Mactavish Ogston (b.1872) married George Carter. Walter Henry Ogston (b.1873) married Josephine Elizabeth Carter in 1909 and they had six children together: Sandy, Flora, Elizabeth, Walter, Josephine and Janet. [See MS 3850/4 Family Papers for further information.]

Following the death of Mary Jane, Ogston married Isabella Margaret Matthews (b.1847/8) in August 1877, daughter of James Matthews, architect; they had four sons and three daughters: Alfred, Douglas, Helen, Constance, Rosa, Alexander and Rannald.
Custodial HistoryThe depositor, Andy Philpot, believes that Sir Alexander Ogston gave his collection of journals, photographs and other materials to his eldest surviving son, Walter Henry Ogston, who in turn gave them to his eldest son, Alexander (Sandy) George Ogston. When Sandy Ogston retired as President of Trinity College, Oxford, he and his wife, Elizabeth, moved to a house in York. This house was willed to their two eldest daughters, Flora Barwick and Elizabeth (Liddy) Dalesman and the house was occupied by the latter for many years.

In the 1960s Andy Philpot's mother Flora, the eldest daughter of Henry and Josephine Ogston, decided to edit the letters of her parents from the time they were living in India in the early part of the 20th century. Upon starting work on his mother's edited version of the letters in 2003 [the re-edited and illustrated version of these letters appear as 'The India Letters', published by the depositor for members of the family in 2007, a copy of which is deposited with this collection], the depositor asked if the original letters were still in existence but it was thought that they had been destroyed at the wishes of his grandmother, Josephine, after his mother had finished working on them. The depositor was told, however, that there might be some family papers in the basement of the Ogston home in York.

On visiting York, he discovered there were two tin uniform trunks in the basement holding, not only the letters of Walter and Josephine, but also the journal, albums and other materials of Sir Alexander. The trunks also contained a collection of photograph albums of Walter and also his memoirs and many other family photographs and documents. The depositor brought the contents of the trunks to Hamilton, Canada in order to use some of the material for illustrating 'The India Letters'. In 2010, in agreement with other interested members of the Ogston family, it was decided that the material pertaining to Sir Alexander Ogston should be offered to the University of Aberdeen along with all of the other material from the trunks.
SourceThe collection was deposited on loan by Andrew Philpot in April 2011. He is a great-grandson of Sir Alexander Ogston (his mother, Flora, was the eldest daughter of Walter Ogston, son of Sir Alexander Ogston). The collection was subsequently gifted to the University (by arrangement with Andrew Philpot) by Walter Ogston, great-grandson of Alexander Ogston, in September 2011.
DescriptionCollection of personal and family papers of Sir Alexander Ogston including his journals, and accompanying photograph albums, recording his travels in Europe in the late 19th century and his wartime experiences as a military surgeon in South Africa (1900) and Italy and Serbia (1916-17). There are also many papers concerning the different branches of the Ogston family, including genealogical records compiled by Ogston, as well as certificates relating to his academic and professional career.

The fourth section includes papers about other members of the Ogston family, and its related branches, in particular Alexander Ogston's father, Dr Francis Ogston, and his son, Walter Henry Ogston. The latter series of papers includes a substantial number of letters between Walter and his wife Josephine, before and after their marriage in 1909, when they lived in India. There is also a draft copy of Walter Ogston's memoirs and photograph albums documenting his family's time in India and pictured at various locations around Britain.

A useful account of the correspondence between Walter and Josephine Ogston can be found in the privately published 'The India Letters' (see MS 3850/4/7/1/4). This also includes a great deal of useful background information about Sir Alexander Ogston and the different branches of the Ogston family.
Family papers
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsThe records are available subject to the signed acceptance of the Department's access conditions.
Physical DescriptionThe papers are in very good condition but care should be taken when consulting some of the journals which have numerous enclosures of photographs and other documents.
Related MaterialArchival material:
MS 2478/9: Bound, typescript copy of 'A Wealth of Relations' by Molly Dickens, concerning the Grierson and Ogston families (1972)
MS 2630: Aberdeen Medical Club, 1868-1875
MS 2941: Sir Alexander Ogston (1844 - 1929), Regius Professor of Surgery, University of Aberdeen: manuscript maps of Cromar and ancient structures, c.1912
MS 3200: Lecture on 'Lister and Ogston' by Alan Lyell, c.1984
MS 3290: Robert Laws of Livingstonia and Amelia Laws: papers. Amelia Laws worked in Italy during the First World War as a nurse at the same time as Alexander Ogston and refers to a family friend Dr. Brock, who was a colleague of Sir Alexander Ogston, numerous times in her correspondence
MS 3496: Lecture notes on surgery given under Alexander Ogston, 1888
MS 3760: Papers of Sir Alexander Ogston (1844 - 1929), Regius Professor of Surgery, University of Aberdeen, c.1882-1909

Printed material:
Supplement to the genealogical history of the families of Ogston', Alexander Ogston (1897)
'A genealogical history of the families of Ogston from their first appearance circa A.D. 1200', Alexander Ogston (1876)
'K.C.V.O.: memories and tributes of relatives, colleagues and students; with some autobiographical writings', Walter H. Ogston (1943) - contains extracts from "Scattered Recollections" [notes compiled by Alexander Ogston and referred to in other parts of this collection] beginning on page 53: Autobiographical Writings: I. - Personal Record.
'Reminiscences of three campaigns', Alexander Ogston (1919)

Museum material:
Alexander Ogston: Ethnography, Photography Albums (Collection Description). Objects collected from 4000BC - 1929 (ABDUA:CLD84)

External resources:
AMCS/4/10/5/1: Letter from Sir Alexander Ogston to Sir James Reid, 3 August 1914 relating to operation on Prince Albert (later King George VI) for appendicitis
The Wellcome Library has two volumes of Alexander Ogston's case-books from his time as a military surgeon at Villa Trento Hospital dating from the 13 September 1916 to 16 November 1917 (MSS. 3710, 3711).
Publication Note'Reminiscences of three campaigns', Alexander Ogston (London, 1919).
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