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Biographical entry Mouat, Frederic John (1816 - 1897)

MRCS July 6th 1838; FRCS (by election) Aug 26th 1844; MD Edin 1839; LLD 1886.

18 May 1816
12 January 1897
Chemist and General surgeon


Born at Maidstone on May 18th, 1816, the second son of Surgeon James Mouat, King's Hussars, 13th Light Infantry, and 15th Dragoons. Surgeon General Sir James Mouat, VC, KCB, FRCS his elder brother (qv) survived him for about a year.

Frederic John Mouat studied in Paris with the intention of entering the Army, then turning to medicine he attended University College, London, and Edinburgh University, where he graduated MD in 1839. He was appointed Assistant Surgeon in the Bengal Army on Jan 3rd, 1840, and was sent successively to the 21st Fusiliers at Fort William, to the 4th Bengal Native Infantry, and to the 1st Battery of Artillery at Dum Dum. He was for a year Deputy Apothecary and Assistant Opium Examiner to the Government, at the same time conducting experiments on some dye-yielding lichens. Having drawn up a detailed memorandum on Indian Industrial Products, he was appointed by Lord Auckland Professor of Chemistry and Materia Medica, also Secretary and Treasurer of the New Bengal Medical College, in 1841. He was the Resident Principal Officer in control of the College from 1841-1853, and obtained for it recognition by the RCS and by the University of London. He remodelled the system of clinical teaching in the wards and rendered into Hindustani an Anatomy for the use of the medical class, also the London Pharmacopaeia. As Chemical Examiner to the Government he served on the Select Artillery Committee and experimented on percussion caps. In conjunction with Colonel Edward Ludlow he invented a waterproof glaze to prevent rapid deterioration of the caps in a tropical climate. Some of the percussion caps having failed at the Battle of Inkerman, Mouat investigated the cause, and on the Chinese Expedition the muskets of the Cameronians, the 49th and 65th Foot were supplied with percussion caps filled according to Mouat's instructions so as to be damp-proof. He and Colonel Ludlow also experimented in the laboratory of the Medical College on field rockets. Mouat also submitted rubber to chemical analysis.

Appointed Secretary to the Council of Education of Bengal on April 12th, 1843, he produced in 1846 a scheme, on the lines of the University of London, for Indian Universities, and in 1854 Sir Charles Wood recommended what was essentially Mouat's scheme, which was adopted by the Council of Education and by the Indian Government.

From the Professorship of Chemistry Mouat passed in 1845 to that of Medical Jurisprudence, and in 1849 to the Professorship of Medicine, including charge of the Medical Wards in the Hospital. He was gazetted Inspector-General of Jails in Bengal on Dec 18th, 1855, and advocated remunerative prison labour as a way to reform prisoners and make prisons self-supporting.

The outbreak of the Mutiny caused Mouat to be made President of a Committee in November, 1857, to explore the Andaman Islands in search of a suitable site for a convict settlement; his report was published in 1859. In a fight with the Andamanese he was wounded in the mouth and had two ribs broken. A harbour was discovered on the west coast of the Great Andamans and named Port Mouat. He twice reported to the Government on coolie emigration and its dangers. He founded the Bethune Society of Calcutta, so named after John Elliot Drinkwater Bethune, Indian Legislator (1801-1851).

Mouat retired on Dec 3rd, 1870, and on this occasion the Mohammedan and Hindu communities presented addresses recapitulating the good work done by him as the developer of the idea of Indian education, which had been inaugurated by Lord Macaulay under Lord William Bentinck's administration. Although no Knighthood or Companionship of an Order recognized it, the name of Mouat stands alongside those of Macaulay and Bentinck, Wood and Canning, in the spread of English education and the origin of the Universities in India. Mouat was a fluent speaker in French and Hindustani, as well as in English, and he presented a valuable library to the Calcutta Medical College.

On retirement he had the rank of Deputy Inspector-General. On his return to England he was appointed one of the Local Government Inspectors until 1887. He contributed much to the Lancet, also to Blue Books on Prison Reforms, Opium and Alcohol, Organization of Medical Relief, Hospital Construction and Management, and Repression of Crime. He was President of the Royal Statistical Society from 1890-1892. He visited and reported on the Ambulances in the north of France in 1871. On Nov 9th, 1876, he was present, as the representative of the Local Government Board, in the Tower of London during the removal of the pavement in the chancel of the Church of St Peter ad Vincula when the skeletons of Anne Boleyn, the Duke of Monmouth, and others were found and identified. He founded and endowed a Scholarship for Medical Students at the University of Edinburgh.

He died at 12 Durham Villas, Kensington, on Jan 12th, 1897, and was cremated at Woking. He married (1) in 1842 Mary Rennards Boyes, and (2) in 1889 Margaret Key, daughter of John Fawcus, JP, who survived him. A good portrait accompanies his biography in the Medical Reporter of Calcutta (1894, iii, 314), and a small reproduction is in the College Collection. His bust by H Thornycroft, RA, he left to University College, London.

Observations on the Nosological Arrangement of the Bengal Medical Returns, with a few Cursory Remarks on Medical Topography and Military Hygiene, 8vo, Calcutta, 1845.
Elements of Anatomy: compiled from the Most Recent Authorities and translated into Hindustani, 8vo, illustrated, Calcutta, 1848.
An Atlas of Anatomical Plates of the Human Body, with Descriptive Letterpress in English and Hindustani, published by order of Government, fol, 50 coloured plates, Calcutta, 1849.
Reports on Jails Visited and Inspected in Bengal, Behar, and Arracan, 8vo, 2 plans, Calcutta, 1856.
The Andaman Islands; with Notes on Barren Island (Report of the Committee appointed Nov 20, 1857, to select a Site for the Establishment of a Penal Settlement), 8vo, 6 plates and a plan, Calcutta, 1859.
Selections from the Records of the Government of India (Home Dept), No XXV.
The British Soldier in India, 8vo, London, 1859.
On Prison Statistics and Discipline in Lower Bengal, 8vo, 1860?
Report on the Diet of Prisoners in the Jails of the Lower Provinces of the Bengal Presidency (with Appendix No II, showing in detail the strength, admissions, deaths, dietary, and cubical space of the three quinquennial periods of 1839-1843, 1844-1848, and 1852-1856, in the Jails of the Lower Provinces, with Abstracts of the same), 4to, Calcutta, 1860.
Report on the Classified Dietary of 1862 for Prisoners in the Jails of the Lower Provinces of the Bengal Presidency (with Appendix showing the results of the new dietary, as exhibited by the weights of the prisoners subjected to it, on admission and discharge; the sickness and mortality that prevailed among them; and the cost of the measure during the continuance of the experiment, viz, from the 1st of May to the 31st of October, 1862), 4to, Calcutta, 1863.
Adventures and Researches among the Andaman Islands, 8vo, London, 1863.
"Special Report on Wounds and Injuries received in Battle," 8vo, 1865?; reprinted from the Medical and Surgical History of the New Zealand War, by Sir James Mouat, VC (qv).
Memorandum on the Duties, etc, of Inspectors of Sanitary Arrangements, fol, 1868.
A Visit to Some of the Battlefields and Ambulances of the North of France, 8vo, London, 1871.
"Medical Statistics, with Especial Reference to Cholera and Syphilis," 8vo, London, 1874; reprinted from Trans Epidemiol Soc Lond, 1866-73, iii, 376.
Note on the Statistics of Child-birth in the Lying-in Wards of the Workhouse Infirmaries of England and Wales for the Ten Years 1871-80, 8vo, nd.
The Death Tribute of England to India; being an examination of the deaths and invaliding of officers of HM British Forces serving in India, from 1861-1870 inclusive, considered with special reference to the question of the present value of European life in India, 8vo, London, 1875.
Repression of Crime; Address delivered before the Social Science Congress at Dublin, Oct 4, 1881, 8vo, London, 1881.
Memorial to the Right Honourable the Secretary of State for India, in Council, 8vo, nd.
Hospital Construction and Management (with H SAXON SNELL), 4to, 52 plates and map, London, 1883-4.
He added a note on dry sewage to W R Gilbert Hickey's The Carbonization or Dry Distillation System, 8vo, Darjeeling, 1869.
He published a Persian translation, with Appendix, of Spilsbury and Samachurn Dutt's Hindustani Version of the London Pharmacopoeia, ed 1836, 8vo, Calcutta, 1845.
He wrote extensively on prisons and their discipline (see his International Prison Statistics, International Prisons Congress, 1890).
A History of the Statistical Society of London, 1885.
Origin and Progress of Universities in India, 1888.
Much of his work in Blue Books, etc, had to do with the condition of the English poor. Lieut-Colonel Crawford, IMS, adds to the foregoing list (Crawford's History of the Indian Medical Service, 1914, especially vol ii, p. 177).
Rough Notes of a Trip to Mauritius, RĂ©union, and Ceylon, 1853.
Value of European Life in India, 1873.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Lancet, 1897, i, 282. Brit Med Jour, 1897, i, 628. Crawford's History of the Indian Medical Service, 177].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England