Lives of the fellows

Alexander Bryson

b.1802 d.12 December 1869
CB MD Glasg FRCP(1860) FFPS Glasg FRS

After studying medicine at Edinburgh and Glasgow and qualifying at the latter in 1827, Alexander Bryson chose to enter the Naval Medical Service for his career. His first years in the Navy were spent at Haslar, on the North American, West Indies and African stations and with the Channel Fleet, but about 1850 he was posted to the Director-General’s Department, where he was promoted through the senior ranks of the Service to become director-general himself in 1864. He wrote a number of papers in the course of his career; of these the most valued were his Report on the Climate and Principal Diseases of the African Station (1847), his Account of . . . the Epidemic Fevers of Sierra Leone (1849) and an article On Medicine and Medical Statistics. Bryson’s preoccupation with statistics and lack of hospital experience, combined with his blunt manner and want of humanity, unfitted him for the responsibilities of his high rank. Nevertheless, they did not justify the callous treatment accorded to him on his retirement in 1859 — refusal of the customary knighthood, sudden dismissal, the appointment of a civilian commission of enquiry without reference to him, and haggling over his pension — actions which aggravated his final illness. Bryson was made Honorary Physician to the Queen in 1859.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1869; B.M.J., 1869; D.N.B., vii, 169]

(Volume IV, page 126)

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