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Biographical entry Gibb, James Glenny (1874 - 1912)

MRCS July 27th 1905; FRCS June 18th 1908; LRCP Lond 1905; MD MS Durham 1908.

1 August 1874
2 October 1912
Peking, China
General surgeon, Missionary and Ophthalmic surgeon


Born on Aug 1st, 1874, the eldest son of James Gibb, insurance broker and underwriter at Lloyd's, who was MP (Lib) for the Harrow Division of Middlesex. His mother was Helen, daughter of the Rev David Nimmo, Congregational minister. Gibb was educated at the City of London School and served for six years in his father's office. He entered St Bartholomew's Hospital in 1900 and won the two-mile steeplechase open to all hospitals in 1901, his time being 11 min 50 secs. He entered the University of Durham in 1902 and won the three-mile race in 1903.

He served as House Physician at Westminster Hospital in 1906 and was appointed House Surgeon to Sir D'Arcy Power at St Bartholomew's Hospital in April, 1907. He was elected Ophthalmic House Surgeon to W H H Jessop (qv) and to Holmes Spicer in April, 1908. At the end of his term of office he married 'Sister Coborn' (Miss Henman), of Islip, Oxon. He started at once for Pekin as Surgeon to the Union Medical College, where a staff of brilliant and earnest teachers had already been collected under the London Missionary Society.

An outbreak of bubonic plague in 1910 sent him to Harbin, as he had already made a study of its bacteriology under Dr Emanuel Klein. He worked heroically with the help of his colleague, Dr Wu Lien Te, and received the thanks of the Imperial Government, but declined, with characteristic modesty, the high decoration offered him as well as any personal emolument. The Government, therefore, sent the salary he had earned as a donation to the funds of the Union Medical College.

He was called upon by the Chinese to organize the work of the Central Red Cross Society when the Revolution broke out in 1911, and again showed administrative ability of a very high order.

He died at Pekin of amoebic dysentery on Oct 2nd, 1912, when he was on the eve of returning to Europe with his wife and two children, and was buried in the British Cemetery. One of his sons, aged 3 years, died a week after his father.

Gibb was shy and somewhat reserved in manner, a man of fixed religious principles, which were never obtruded, though they guided every action of his life. His motto was 'Thorough', his first care was for his patient; of himself he took no thought. Harold Pace Gibb, FRCS, is the younger brother of James Glenny Gibb.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Lancet, 1912, ii, 1115, 1184. St Bart's Hosp Jour, 1912, xx, 29. Personal knowledge].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England