Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry McCormick, Robert (1800 - 1890)

MRCS Dec 6th 1822; FRCS (by election) Aug 26th 1844.

22 July 1800
General surgeon


The son of Robert McCormick, a Surgeon in the Royal Navy; born at Runham, near Great Yarmouth, on July 22nd, 1800, of an Irish family long settled in Co Tyrone. He was a pupil at the United Borough Hospitals in 1821, and entered the Royal Navy as an Assistant Surgeon in 1823. He served in the West Indies for two years, and was invalided in the summer of 1825. He spent a year in a cutter in the North Sea, and then volunteered for Arctic service with Captain William Edward Perry. He sailed with him in the Heckla on the Spitzbergen expedition in the summer of 1827, and on his return was promoted Surgeon on June 27th, 1827. Two years later he was again ordered to the West Indies, and within three months was again invalided. He was appointed to a surveying brig on the Coast of Brazil for a few months, and in 1828 was on a sloop engaged in blockading the Dutch coast. He was sent to the West Indies for the third time, and was once more invalided. He was then placed on half pay for upwards of four years, and spent the time in studying natural history and geology in various parts of England and Wales.

He was appointed to the Erebus in 1839 and went to the Antarctic with Captain James Clark Ross in the double capacity of surgeon and naturalist. The expedition returned to England in 1843, but it was not until September, 1845, that McCormick was appointed to the William and Mary yacht at Woolwich. Two years later he was attached to the Fisgard, the flagship at Woolwich Dockyard, from which he was superseded in 1848. In 1852, whilst Surgeon to the North Star, he joined a search for Sir John Franklin in an open boat and returned to England without success in October, 1853, and for this he received the Arctic Medal in 1857. He was promoted Deputy Inspector of Hospitals on May 20th, 1859, but was never so employed, and was put on the retired list in July, 1865, without being given the honorary rank of Inspector of Hospitals, though he was awarded a Greenwich Hospital pension in 1876. He died on Oct 25th, 1890.

McCormick had considerable ability as surgeon, explorer, and naturalist, but was lacking in tact.

Narrative of a Boat Expedition up the Wellington Channel in the Year 1852, 4to, London, 1854.
Voyages of Discovery in the Arctic and Antarctic Seas and Round the World, 8vo, 2 vols, London, 1884. There is a detailed autobiography and portraits at different ages.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Dict Nat Biog, sub nomine et auct ibi cit].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England