The Age of Discovery
Sir James McGrigor(1771-1858)
Sir James McGrigor, first baronet, military surgeon, was born at Cromdale, Inverness-shire, on 9 April 1771. He was educated at the grammar school at Aberdeen, and at Marshal College, where he graduated MA in 1788 and studied medicine at Aberdeen and Edinburgh.
He joined the army as a surgeon in 1793 and saw service with an Irish regiment, the Connaught Rangers, in Flanders, the West Indies and India.
He was appointed to the post of Deputy Inspector-General of Hospitals in 1805 and took part in the Walcheren expedition before his appointment as Inspector-General of Hospitals in August 1809.
In 1811, he was appointed Surgeon-General for the Duke of Wellington's army in Spain and Portugal during the Peninsular Wars (1808-14). 164
James McGrigor was knighted in 1814 and then given the appointment of Director General of the Medical Corps on 13 June 1815, just before the battle of Waterloo. Sir James McGrigor is also accredited with devising the chain of evacuation for the wounded. Here was a British Surgeon showing the same kind of dedication to the wellbeing of the wounded as Larrey was for the French.
He was responsible for bringing to the attention of the Duke of Wellington the need for an efficient Medical service so that more soldiers could be treated and returned to duty.
He also persuaded Wellington, following the siege of Badajoz, to mention medical officers in dispatches for the first time.
He introduced the stethoscope in 1821, set up field hospitals for those injured in action, and generally improved the standards of cleanliness and hygiene
James Guthrie and James McGrigor were the British surgeons whose standards rose above, and moved far ahead of the civilian surgeons at the time.
An obelisk to his memory has been placed in Aberdeen and is now in Duthie Park. 164
Uxbridge; "By God, Sir I've lost my leg." Wellington; "By God, Sir, so you have." 165