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Biographical entry Innes, Sir John Henry Ker (1820 - 1907)

KCB 1887; MRCS July 19th 1841; FRCS (by election) May 10th 1860.

27 January 1820
12 March 1907
Florence, Italy
General surgeon


Born on Jan 27th, 1820, and belonged to the Scottish family of Innes-Kers. He studied at University College Hospital, London, and joined the Army Medical Service as Assistant Surgeon to the 78th Foot. He was gazetted to the Dragoon Guards in January, 1846, to the 83rd Foot in May, 1847, to the Staff on Oct 7th, 1851, and to the 56th Foot as Surgeon on March 11th, 1853. In 1854 he volunteered from his regiment stationed in India to the Crimea and was present at the Siege of. Sebastopol and the attack on the Redan, for which he was awarded the Turkish Medal, and a Medal with Clasps. He was gazetted to the 60th Foot on Jan 12th, 1855, and served with his regiment through the Mutiny. At the action on the Hindun he was wounded and had his horse shot; he was present at the Battle of Bundli-ke-Serai, at the storming of the heights before Delhi and its capture. He was Principal Medical Officer under Sir John Jones through the Rohilkund Campaign, and with Brigadier Troup's Column in Oudh. He was often mentioned in dispatches, received a Medal with Clasp, was decorated CB in 1858 and promoted Deputy Inspector-General on Dec 31st, 1858.

He was appointed British Medical Commissioner on the staff of the Crown Prince of Prussia during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), and was given by the German Emperor the steel War Medal and the Iron Cross. On July 24th, 1872, he was promoted Inspector-General and Surgeon General Army Medical Department, and from 1876-1880 was Principal Medical Officer to the Forces in India. In 1878-1879 he was the Principal Medical Officer of the Afghanistan Expeditionary Force, was present at the capture of Ali Musjid and the advance up the Khyber Pass, being mentioned in dispatches and receiving the Medal and Clasp. In 1877 he was made Hon Surgeon to Queen Victoria.

He retired on Jan 27th, 1880, was granted a Reward for Distinguished Service in 1885, and promoted KCB at Queen Victoria's Jubilee in 1887; at the time of his death he was Senior Hon Surgeon to King Edward VII. To the end of his life Sir John Ker-Innes lived in Florence as the leading spirit among the English colony, actively interested in the Anglo-Catholic Church of the Holy Trinity and its reconstruction in the Via Lamarmora. He died at his house on the Piazza Independenza on March 12th, 1907, of pneumonia following upon influenza, then epidemic. A memorial commemorating him was set up in the form of an inner porch of the Holy Trinity Church. (His name is spelt Innis in the Fellow's Register.)

Sources used to compile this entry: [Johnston's RAMC Roll, No. 4696].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England