Lives of the fellows

James Ormiston MacWilliam

b.1808 d.4 May 1862
CB MD Edin LRCS Edin FRS FRCP(1859)

James MacWilliam was born and educated at Dalkeith, and qualified at Edinburgh in 1827. Entering the navy as an assistant surgeon in 1829 he served abroad for ten years, being surgeon to the Scout for the last two years and receiving the Blane medal for his journal. On returning to England, he studied at the London hospitals for a time and proceeded to his degree in 1840. In 1841 he was chosen as senior surgeon on board the Albert, one of the three ships on the ill-fated Niger expedition. The whole company of officers and many of the crew being struck down by yellow fever, he took command and navigated the ship safely down the river, with the assistance of Dr. Stanger, the expedition’s geologist, who worked the engine-room. His subsequent report was published under the title Medical History of the Niger Expedition (1843). After two further years afloat and serving on a mission of enquiry into yellow fever on the Cape Verde Islands, he was appointed, in 1847, medical officer to the Custom House. In 1848 he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society and in 1850 was active in the formation of the Epidemiological Society, of which he became secretary. He left his widow and several children in straitened circumstances, and a fund was opened for their assistance.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1862; B.M.J., 1862; D.N.B., xxxv, 287]

(Volume IV, page 110)

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