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Biographical entry Galpin, George Luck (1857 - 1941)

MRCS 18 November 1880; FRCS 11 June 1885; LDS RCS 1878; LSA 1880; MD MS QUI 1881.

14 March 1857
25 July 1941
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
General surgeon


Born 14 March 1857, fifth of the six sons of Henry Carter Galpin and Georgina Maria Luck, his wife. The Galpin family, of which G L Galpin wrote a history, came from Staffordshire and Dorset, and claimed "John Gilpin" as a collateral. H C Galpin, who was an architect and amateur astronomer, had settled at Grahamstown, South Africa in 1840 and built a block where he made and sold watches, clocks, jewelry, and musical instruments. It was surmounted by an observatory and camera lucida still standing in 1943. Three of the sons continued the watchmaking and jewelry business very profitably.

George Luck Galpin was educated, like all his brothers, at St Andrew's College, Grahamstown, from October 1870 to June 1873. He was afterwards sent alone on a stage-coach to Cape Town to take ship for England. He first qualified as a dental surgeon from the Royal Dental Hospital in London, and then took his full medical training at the Middlesex Hospital and the Queen's University of Ireland, where he took honours in medicine at the MD, MS examination in 1881. He served as junior house surgeon at Macclesfield General Infirmary and as house surgeon at the Middlesex Hospital before going back to South Africa.

Galpin was the first Fellow of the English college to practise in South Africa, and was in general practice at Cradock Place Manor, Port Elizabeth, Cape Province from 1885 to 1912. Thomas Pemberton, FRCS Edinburgh, had registered in South Africa in 1878 and was the only holder of a surgical Fellowship there before Galpin. G A E Murray, FRCS 1887, did not practise in South Africa till 1888. After his retirement in 1912 Galpin lived for a time at Great Westerford, Rondebosch, Cape Town. He later declared that he had been bought out of his practice for ten thousand pounds by rivals whom his success injured.

He married on 10 October 1898 Agnes May, second daughter of Anthony William Hockley, of Little Buckingham, Sussex, who predeceased him. There were no children. He died at Port Elizabeth on 25 July 1941, aged 84, the oldest FRCS in the Union of South Africa. Galpin, who had ample private means, never took part in medical politics nor contributed to professional publications. He was of retiring reserved disposition, but of great ability, generosity, and kindliness.


The family of Galpin in Staffordshire and Dorset. London, Chiswick Press, 1926.

Sources used to compile this entry: [S Afr med J 1941, 15, 316; further information given by E G Dru MD, MRCS, of Grahamstown.].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England