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Biographical entry Wright, Robert Temple (1843 - 1902)

MRCS April 27th 1866; FRCS June 10th 1869; MD Edin 1866; MRCP Lond 1868.

April 1843
27 August 1902
General surgeon


Born in April, 1843, the son of Robert John Wright, land surveyor of Thorpe Episcopi, Norfolk. He received his professional training at King's College, London, where he was a scholar (1863), and at the University of Edinburgh. He held various house surgeoncies, and then entered the Indian Medical Service of Bengal in 1869. His promotions were as follows: Date of first commission, Feb 1st, 1869: Assistant Surgeon, Bengal; Surgeon, July 1st, 1873; Surgeon Major, April 1st, 1881; Surgeon Lieutenant-Colonel, April 1st, 1889; Brigade Surgeon Lieutenant-Colonel, Jan 2nd, 1894; retired, June 20th, 1894. In the course of his service it appears that he was employed in all the provinces of the Bengal Presidency except Assam.

In 1873 he was Officiating Professor of Anatomy at the Lahore Medical College, when he was appointed Civil Surgeon at Peshawar. Here a remittent fever attacked him with such virulence that he was given two years' sick leave. Ordinary treatment in Europe having failed, he was sent to Carlsbad by Sir Joseph Fayrer (qv), and derived so much benefit from the waters that he twice returned there. He attributed his ability to remain in the service to this spa. He described the virtues of the water in the Indian Annals of Medical Science and in the Indian Medical Gazette, and showed how "powdered natural mineral salt of Carlsbad" can stand the Indian climate. "Anglo-Indians", says Temple Wright's biographer in the Indian Medical Record (1894), "can now be treated with it in India…and many a worn-out official has been able by its use to hold out till he could claim his pension, without losing money by a costly trip to Europe."

Temple Wright now began to be known as a very ready writer, and during the Afghan War of 1879-1881 the principal medical officers of two out of the three columns, on the Kurram and on the Kandahar lines, applied for his services as secretary. He was sent to Kandahar and remained there with the 8th Bengal Cavalry until the evacuation of the country in April, 1881. He acted as Secretary to the Principal Medical Officer, and at once won the confidence of his confreres. Everything that could be settled in the PMO's office was settled at once, even if the Secretary had to sit up till midnight (as sometimes happened) to answer letters. The retirement of the invading forces through the Bolan Pass in April and May, 1881, was a complete contrast to the 'March of Death' through the Khyber Pass on the northern line of invasion, described by Dr George Evatt, AMS, the well-known authority on medical arrangements in armies. The Bolan retirement, with a temperature in the tents of 117° F, was effected without casualties, though some 40,000 people (troops and followers combined) were concerned.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England