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Biographical entry Jameson, James (1837 - 1904)

CB (Civil) 1897; FRCS (by election) July 25th 1900; LRCS Edin 1857; MD Glasgow 1865; Hon LLD Glasgow; Hon MD Dublin.

15 August 1837
Kilbirnie, Ayrshire
13 September 1904
Eltham, Kent
General surgeon


Born in Kilbirnie, Ayrshire, on Aug 15th, 1837, the second son of W Jameson, Ladeside. He was educated at Glasgow University, and entered the Army as Staff Assistant Surgeon on Nov 9th, 1857. He was sent to Canada on April 17th, 1862, and was appointed to the 47th Foot, accompanying the regiment to the West Indies. For service during the Fenian Raid he received the Canadian General Service Medal and Clasps, and on May 18th, 1870, was specially promoted to Surgeon for highly meritorious service during the yellow fever epidemic in Trinidad. During the Franco-German War (1870-1871), including the Siege of Paris and the Loire Campaign, he was in command of a division of the English Ambulance; received the Emperor William I War Medal; was promoted Surgeon Major on March 1st, 1873, and Brigade Surgeon on May 2nd, 1883. He became Deputy Surgeon General on Sept 14th, 1888; Surgeon Major-General, July 6th, 1893, and Director-General in succession to Sir William MacKinnon on May 7th, 1896, a post he held to his retirement on June 1st, 1901. He was made a Knight of Grace of the Order of St John of Jerusalem in 1896.

It was under Jameson that the Royal Army Medical Corps was established, for the experience of the South African War brought to a head long-advocated demands. The Medical Establishment up to the time of the war had been designed for two army corps and two cavalry brigades, and even then was under-staffed. The establishment was brought up to strength and increased by 100, nominees being appointed on recommendations from medical schools. Also 700 civil surgeons were enrolled, for besides casualties at the front there were, within a few months, 50,000 invalids. Hospital orderlies were collected from the Militia, Volunteers, and the St John Ambulance Brigade. A Royal Commission found that the deficiency was not the fault of the Director-General and the staff of officers associated with him. They had for a considerable time before this outbreak urged upon the military authorities the necessity for an increase of the Corps, but for the most part without avail. As in all previous wars, enteric fever, before its control, was the chief cause of death and invaliding. Thus the Army Medical Department was exposed to popular censure, however unjustly. More unjustly still, the military authorities mentioned above made a scapegoat of Jameson. When his tenure of office expired in 1901 he did not receive the customary recognition given to every one of his predecessors, but retired without a word of thanks or one line of acknowledgement. The medical profession felt the slight, and on July 24th, 1901, entertained Jameson at a complimentary dinner which testified to the esteem in which they continued to hold him.

Jameson lived in retirement during the following three years, and died at Newlands, Eltham, Kent, on Sept 13th, 1904. His portrait is in the Fellows' Album and the College Collection. He was buried at Woolwich on Sept 17th, 1904, the funeral being military and fully representative. He married in 1864 the daughter of the Rev Robert David Cartwright, of Kingston, Canada, who survived him with five sons and a daughter. Two of the sons were officers in the RAMC.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Johnston's RAMC Roll, No 5641].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England