Sir James McGrigor

The Adventurous Life of Wellington's Chief Medical Officer

Tom Scotland

This biography celebrates the 250th anniversary of the birth of Sir James McGrigor, widely regarded as the father of British Army Medical Services, and explains why he rose to great prominece during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.
Date Published :
March 2021
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
From Reason to Revolution
Illustration :
22 figures, 5 maps, 4 tables
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781914059216
Pages : 178
Dimensions : 9.5 X 6.75 inches
Stock Status : Available


This biography celebrates the 250th anniversary of the birth of Sir James McGrigor, widely regarded as the father of British Army Medical Services, and explains why he rose to great prominence during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

McGrigor had a great interest in the medical profession and was a man of integrity, courage, and initiative who loved the Army. He devoted his life to improving medical care of individual soldiers, whether privates or junior officers, and achieved this by personal example and firm leadership. He had the support, loyalty and affection of all his subordinates and the respect and cooperation of senior military commanders. The Duke of Wellington had complete confidence in McGrigor`s ability, and regarded him as the most loyal of public servants. McGrigor had great powers of observation and throughout his long career kept accurate records, partly to advance his own professional knowledge and skill and partly to gain a better understanding of the many diseases which were responsible for nearly four times as many soldiers` deaths than wounds. Throughout his career, and especially when he became Director General of Army Medical Services in 1815, McGrigor ensured that every medical officer received an education and training second to none, enabling him to deliver the best possible medical care to his charges. Measures introduced and employed by McGrigor are as applicable today as they were more than two hundred years ago.

This is the story of his remarkable life, which was truly a great adventure.

About The Author

Tom Scotland graduated in Medicine from the University of Edinburgh in 1971 and became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in 1975. He became Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon with NHS Grampian and Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Aberdeen. He was lead clinician for the Scottish Sarcoma Managed Clinical Network for three years. He developed an interest in the Great War whilst a student, when there were still many veterans alive. His wife`s uncle was an “Old Contemptible”, one of the original small British Expeditionary Force which went to France in August 1914. He was killed on Ypres Salient in 1915. Since retiring from the NHS, the author has kept in touch with former colleagues by leading cycling expeditions to the Western Front. He has pursued his interest of the Great War by making a particular study of Aberdonian surgeon Sir Henry Gray, who played a pivotal role in the development of orthopaedic surgery on the Western Front. In retirement he has re-invented himself as a cycling orthopaedic historian. He co-edited a book “War Surgery 1914-18”, and has co-authored four further works, “Wars, Pestilence and the Surgeon`s Blade”, “Understanding the Somme 1916: An Illuminating Battlefield Guide”, "Understanding the Ypres Salient: An Illuminating Battlefield Guide” and “Henry Gray, Surgeon of the Great War, saving lives in a theatre of destruction”.


"This excellent book may encourage them [modellers] to devise campaign systems that better reflect the importance of providing good medical care."

- Miniatures Wargames

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