Lives of the fellows

John MacLennan

b.18 February 1801 d.5 April 1874
MD Aberd FRCP(1855)

John MacLennan was a pupil of the Royal High School, Edinburgh, and Edinburgh University before entering the Bombay Medical Service as an assistant surgeon in 1821. Having survived shipwreck on the voyage to India, he rose steadily through the ranks of the Service. He was successively assistant surgeon to the European General Hospital in Bombay, surgeon to the Native General Hospital and, after a year’s travel in the Middle East, surgeon to the European Hospital and medical store-keeper. Meanwhile his private practice grew to be the most successful in the city until, in 1845, his appointment as superintending surgeon in the Presidency Division obliged him to abandon it. In 1848 he became a member of the Medical Board and a year later was promoted to the rank of physician-general. As head of the Bombay Medical Department until his retirement in 1855, he proved his administrative ability and inaugurated many hospital reforms. Like Morehead, however, he realised the importance of improving education as a necessary corollary to such advances. He had acted as superintendent of Bombay’s first school for medical education at the start of his career, and, as a member of the Bombay Board of Education founded in 1840, he was a keen supporter of the new Grant Medical College and a government examiner for its final examinations in 1851-54.

MacLennan was a strong upholder of the status of his Service and assured Lord Frederick Fitz-Clarence that, " had any officer treated his dog-boy in the manner in which the Court of Directors and Board of Control have treated the Medical Service, he would have been brought to a Court-Martial, and cashiered for dishonourable breach of faith". On his last voyage from India, he paid a visit to the army in the Crimea. In his retirement he travelled abroad, studied languages, attended lectures at the Royal Institution, and retained a keen interest in current affairs and military history.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1874; B.M.J., 1874; D. G. Crawford, Hist. of the Indian Medical Service, 1914, ii, 281; Roll of I.M.S., 433]

(Volume IV, page 80)

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