Lives of the fellows

Charles Morehead

b.8 February 1807 d.24 August 1882
CIE MD Edin LRCS Edin FRS Edin FRCP(1860)

Born in Edinburgh, the second son of Robert Morehead, D.D., rector of Easington, Yorkshire, Morehead was educated in Scotland, first at Edinburgh Royal High School and then, after attending a brief course of lectures in Glasgow, at Edinburgh University. In 1826 he spent a year in Paris under the tuition of Louis and of Laennec, inventor of the stethoscope. It was in 1829 that he entered the Bombay Medical Service as an assistant surgeon. After two years on regimental duty, he was transferred to the staff of the Governor of Bombay, Sir Robert Grant, who was deeply attached to the cause of improving education and medical science in India. Morehead was given the chance to show that he shared Grant’s ideals when he became, in 1835, secretary of the Bombay Medical and Physical Society, which owed its foundation in that year mainly to his efforts. He was a constant contributor to its Transactions in the years following. After the Governor’s death in 1838, he was placed on the staff of the European and Native General Hospitals of Bombay. A further opportunity to show his devotion to Grant’s ideals occurred in 1840, when Morehead was appointed secretary to the new Board of Education. The Board’s first two reports, issued during his tenure of the office, demonstrated the radical nature of its reforms.

In 1845 Morehead was made first principal and professor of medicine of the Grant Medical College and physician to the Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy Hospital. His success in establishing a medical school for Indians based on these two institutions was an outstanding achievement. The breadth of his vision was shown by his foundation, as soon as the first batch of students had qualified, of a medical society, whose members would, he declared, not merely embody a representation of medical knowledge, but prove a means of enlightening their fellows on a wider plane.

Except for a year spent as superintending surgeon at Poona at the time of the Mutiny, he passed the remainder of his career at Grant College. In 1859 he returned to England, and in 1861 his services to India were recognised by his appointment as C.I.E. and as Honorary Surgeon to the Queen. In England Morehead was recognised as an authority on tropical diseases and on medical education. He married in 1844 Harriet Anne, daughter of George Barnes, first archdeacon of Bombay. He died at Wilton Castle in Yorkshire.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1882; D.N.B., xxxix, 1; Roll of I.M.S., 442; H. A. Haines, Memorial of the life and work of Charles Morehead, [? 1884]]

(Volume IV, page 129)

<< Back to List