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Biographical entry Jenkins, James Alfred (1892 - 1976)

MRCS and FRCS 1921; MB Otago 1917; ChM 1924; FRACS 1928.

19 August 1892
New Zealand
26 March 1976
General surgeon


James Alfred Jenkins was born in Blenheim, New Zealand, on 19 August 1892. He was educated at Marlborough College, New Zealand, and at the Otago Medical School. He was the top graduate of his year winning the Batchelor Memorial Prize and the New Zealand Medical Travelling Scholarship.

After a short period as resident at Dunedin Hospital, he joined the New Zealand Medical Corps and served overseas with the rank of Captain. After his discharge from the Army he attended the Middlesex and St Mary's Hospitals and obtained the FRCS in 1921. In 1922 he returned to Dunedin where he joined the visiting staff of the Dunedin Hospital. Over the next thirty years he developed an extensive surgical practice in Dunedin and he became one of the leading New Zealand surgeons.

He was awarded the Master of Surgery degree of the University of New Zealand in 1924. He was at first a tutor in surgery at the Otago University Medical School, and later lecturer in clinical surgery. He was for many years examiner in clinical surgery at the University of Otago for the MB, ChB. He also served the dental school as lecturer in surgery and as an examiner. He was active in the affairs of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons having become FRACS in 1928, as a member of the Board of Censors, and for many years as a member of the New Zealand Committee of the College. In 1948 he was President of the New Zealand Branch of the British Medical Association at the conference which was held in Dunedin during its centennial year. He was for many years a member of the University Club. He retired from the surgical staff of the Dunedin Hospital in 1952, when he reached the then retiring age of 60. However he felt at the time there were many years of surgery left in him and on moving to Nelson he carried on a limited consulting practice for several years, and served as consulting surgeon to the Nelson Hospital.

James Jenkins was one of the great characters of the Dunedin Hospital and the Otago University Medical School during a critical phase of the School's development. He had a brilliant mind which he exercised not only within his profession and within his speciality of surgery, but also in his wide-ranging outside interests. His skill was, and has remained, a legend throughout his country.

Throughout his life he was a very active man, from the time he was school athletic champion and Otago University Blue for tennis, until his later years when he loved fishing and the outdoor life. He was also interested in painting and photography. In 1919 he married Edith Alma Clouston. They had one daughter and two sons both of whom are doctors. He died on 26 March 1976, aged 83 years.

Sources used to compile this entry: [NZ med J 1976, 83, 284-5].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England