Canadians who graduated in medicine from Edinburgh University 1809-1840



THIS PAGE IS A "WORK IN PROGRESS" if you can add to it or correct it please get in touch.
The paper was published in the spring 2013 issue (#118) of the Osler Library Newsletter - an addendum appeared in OLN #120, Spring 2014. Any further additions and corrections will be made ONLY on this website.

Last revised: 10 December 2022

Canadians who graduated with an MD from the University of Edinburgh 1809 - 1840

David S. Crawford  Emeritus Librarian, McGill University

In the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the University of Edinburgh was a major medical training centre for people (usually men) from many parts of the world. Though most students were from Europe, in 1744 Thomas Jarvis from Antigua graduated with a thesis on Affectione Hysterica, becoming the first of over 650 students from the Americas to graduate in medicine from the university between that date and 1865.

In addition to the official university lists of all medical graduates (1, 2) there have been several more specialised ones; the compilation by Lewis (3) lists the American (U.S.) graduates and another compiled by Ferguson (4) concentrates on those from the West Indies. As the Osler Library has an extensive collection of published Edinburgh medical these (5) it seems appropriate to create an equivalent Canadian list.

However, it is first necessary to state that the compilation of a list of foreign graduates of Edinburgh is not as easy as it may sound. The list that follows is, like the lists noted above, restricted to people who submitted a thesis and actually graduated from the University. Many other ‘Canadians’, such as Jacques Labrie, William Carson and maybe Adam Mabane, took medical courses at the University while others studied in Edinburgh but were content to obtain a licence from the Royal College of Surgeons. The listing that follows takes the country of origin from the printed Edinburgh lists but, of course, there was no Canadian "nationality" at the time and it is unclear how the Edinburgh authorities decided on a country; it may have been based on birth-place as George Cranstoun Brown (1818) who is noted as ‘Nova Scotus’ had certainly been born in Halifax (in 1794) but had probably lived in Scotland from an early age, since his father became a professor at the University of Edinburgh in 1801.

Canada did not, of course, exist as a country until 1867 (and Newfoundland did not join Canada until 1949) so people born in what is now "Canada" are denoted in the printed lists in several- inconsistent - ways. In the theses themselves some (e.g. Almon) are identified as 'Anglo-Americanus' but in the printed lists most are identified by their colony (Nova Scotus, Insula Terrae Novae, Neobrunsvisensis etc), as "Canadensis", "Americanus" or as being from "America Septentrionali" (North America.) Most of those denoted in the latter two ways were actually from what is now the United States.

Until 1833 Edinburgh medical theses were written in Latin and, until 1862, the student’s forename and country of origin are also “Latinised”. One problem is that the place of origin is not always clear or correct, for example Andrew Fernando Holmes, one of the founders of the McGill medical school, who graduated in 1819, is listed as “Americanus” – though he was born in Spain and spent almost his whole life in Montréal, while other writers have sometimes misinterpreted the Latin place names. Comie (6) states that John Macculloh – who graduated in 1793 - was the first Canadian graduate and that he came from Sarnia in what is now Ontario. In fact, his place of origin is noted as Sarniensis; the Latinised form of Guernsey. (Sarnia in Ontario was only given this name in 1836.) The first Canadian medical graduates from Edinburgh were actually Almon and Bayard – both graduated in 1809, are listed as “Americanus” and originating in Nova Scotia. There are also several graduates noted as coming from "America Septentrionali" (North America); several of these were "Canadian" and are noted below. A further source of confusion is that people tended to use the Mc or Mac and even the M' prefix rather arbitrarily - if looking for a person with a surname having one of these prefixes it is best to look in several places.

The list that follows excludes people who moved to and practiced in Canada after graduating or who were posted to Canada as army physicians or surgeons e.g. John Nooth (1766), John Gamble (1793), William Warren Baldwin (1797), Alexander MacDonald (1805), John Richardson (1816) and George Herrick (1817). Of course, other Canadians went to medical schools in the United States and Europe; the first person to graduate in medicine in Canada was William Logie; he graduated from McGill in 1833.(7) The year of registration, particularly in Upper and Lower Canada, has been added for several people; it is interesting to note that several obtained their medical licenses prior to being awarded their MD degrees.

Almost all Edinburgh medical theses up to about 1832 were printed, published and distributed to members of the Edinburgh medical faculty, so copies of them are generally available either at the University of Edinburgh Library or elsewhere. The Osler Library has copies of those marked with *. The Wellcome Library has digitised many that it holds and if a copy is NOT at the Osler Library, this is noted. With the exception of Badgley’s 1829 thesis, copies of all theses written by Canadians up to 1830 have been located. Early Canadiana Online (ECO) plans to digitise them all in the next few years.

There is an interesting (and quite amusing) contemporary account of the Edinburgh University medical graduation ceremonies by 1821 graduate John Conolly (1794-1866) (8)

Any corrections and additions will be gratefully received at .

Between 1841 and 1861, when the curriculum changed, approximately 65 additional "Canadians" graduated with an Edinburgh MD. A similar listing of these people is available HERE.

*ALMON William Bruce 1787-1840 (de Galvanismo complectens) Son of William James Almon, a Loyalist physician who moved to Halifax with Lord Howe, William Bruce enrolled in 1806 and after graduation practiced in Halifax. He was appointed as the port`s medical officer and died of typhus, contracted while supervising the treatment of an emigrant ship. (DCB)

*BAYARD, Robert 1788-1868 (de opii atque venaesectionis effectibus in puerperas complectens) From another Loyalist family, Bayard was born in Nova Scotia. He also enrolled in 1806 and after his graduation was appointed professor of obstetrics at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of the State of New York. During the War of 1812 he chose not to take the oath of allegiance and returned to Canada. He settled in Kentville (then called Horton Corner), Nova Scotia, where he practised until November 1823 before moving to Saint John in New Brunswick.(DCB)


*MACLOUGHLIN, David 1786-1870. (de animi auxilio ad morbos præcavendos aut sanandos). Macloughlin was the first graduate listed as being from “Canad” and “Canadensis”; he originated in Rivière du Loup – his mother was Angélique Fraser, whose father was the Seigneur of La Malbaie (Mount Murray). After graduation, Macloughlin served as a British army doctor in the Peninsular War and, having been taken prisoner, was possibly placed in charge of a French military hospital. According to Peterkin he was "Dismissed HM Service for disobedience of orders on May 12, 1824." He remained in France, practicing in Boulogne and Paris, for 27 years, before returning to London (England); for his services in France he was appointed as a Chevalier of the Legion d’Honeur in 1842. He practicing in London until his death and was an honorary Member of the Royal Irish Academy. His obituary (9), notes that he held “eccentric views” on certain diseases, primarily cholera and syphilis. But “apart from his hypothesis in medical matters, he was a very worthy as well as an energetic and accomplished man.” His brother, John McLoughlin [sic], (DCB) studied medicine as an apprentice under Sir James Fisher in Québec City, was registered as a doctor in 1803. (10) and subsequently became one of the first "to bring civilization and culture to the Oregon Country – Pacific Northwest." (11, 11a)

SELBY, William Dunbar 1787-1829
(de pneumonia) Son of George Selby, (DCB) who also trained as a doctor in Edinburgh, in 1777-1778, but did not graduate. He is listed as “Anglo-Americanus” and was the medical officer of the Montréal jail; like his father, he was also connected to the Hôtel Dieu Hospital in Montréal (12).He was registered in Quebec (Lower Canada) in 1811. In the 1831 Montréal Almanack it is noted that “Dr. George Selby of Montréal was one of the Commissioners appointed to examine candidates for [medical] licenses and therefore does not hold a licence himself.”


*FARGUES, Thomas 1777-1847 (de chorea) Fargues graduated (A.B.) from Harvard College in 1797 and enrolled at Edinburgh in 1809. He received his licence to practice in Québec in January 1814 and in June 1816 he was appointed a medical examiner for the District of Québec. In 1824 he was appointed as the first professor of medicine at McGill College; at that time the College only existed on paper and he never taught at McGill. He was awarded an honorary MD by Harvard in 1831. In his will he left $6000 to McGill College to establish a chair of homeopathy. (DCB)


*ROBERTSON, John 1795-1857 (de ophthalmia membranarum) Robertson is noted as “Canadensis” but he appears not to have returned to Canada. He may be the John Robertson, dates above, who joined the British army. According to Peterkin a John Robertson who graduated from Edinburgh in 1813 won the Gold Medal for Syria and retired from the army in 1851. (There are two  graduates named “John Robertson” in the 1813 graduation list.)

*BROWN, George Cranstoun 1794-1832 (de elephantiasi Graecorum vel lepra Arabum, complectens). Noted as being ‘Nova Scotus’ in the Edinburgh lists he actually described himself as Scoto-Americanus on the title page of his thesis. He was born in Halifax, the son of Andrew Brown (DCB) who was a Presbyterian minister and historian living there in the 1790s and who, in 1801, became Professor of Rhetoric and Belles-lettres, Edinburgh University. He practiced in Sheffield (England) prior to his death.

*HAMILTON, Joseph 1798-1847
(de hydrope) After graduation Hamilton initially practiced in London (England) but returned to Canada in 1835 and practiced in both Queenston Heights and Toronto. He was an inactive member of the Upper Canada Medical Board and the Treasurer of the Medico-Chirurgical Society. He worked at the Emigrant Fever Hospital in Toronto and died of typhus during the epidemic of 1847. (13)

*WALSH, John
W.H. (de scarlatina) Enrolled in 1815 and in the list of graduates is noted as “Canadensis”. According to O'Mara he was born in Newfoundland and Rusted (43) says that he was practicing in St John's in 1824. He was the "John Walsh MD of the University of Edinburgh" who was married to Eliza Ann Dowsley in St Johns in 1828. Rusted notes that he was appointed health officer in Carbonear in April 1832 due to an impending cholera epidemic but was dismissed within a year "due to his irregular habits and unhappy state of mind." In 1837 he was mentioned in a Supply Bill, that was rejected. He was to be paid £25 by the government for assistance in a small-pox epidemic and was also one of three directors of the school in Carbonear, which was supposed to receive £100. According to O'Mara he was in St John's in 1847.(43, 46)


*HOLMES, Andrew Fernando 1797-1860 (de tetano) Andrew Fernando Holmes, listed as “Americanus”, was born at Cadiz because the ship on which his (British) family were emigrating to Canada had been captured by a French frigate and taken to Spain as a prize. The family did not reach British North America until 1801, settling at Québec for a few years and then moving to Montréal. Holmes worked with Daniel Arnaldi before and after his studies and enrolled at Edinburgh in 1817. (He was registered to practice in 1816.) He was one of the founders of the McGill medical school, professor of chemistry, botany and pharmacy and Dean from 1854-60. He was awarded an ad eundem degree by McGill in 1843. (DCB,14,15)


*STEPHENSON, John 1796-1842 (de velosynthesi) Stephenson, listed as “Canadensis”, enrolled at Edinburgh in 1816 and his thesis, which describes one of the first successful repairs of a cleft palate, was written by Stephenson not as the surgeon but as the patient. He was licensed in 1821 and was one of the founders of the McGill medical school and the first professor of anatomy, surgery and physiology. (DCB,14,15)


*AVERY, James Fillis 1794-1887 (de usu moxae) Listed as “ex Nova Scotia” Avery was the son of United Empire Loyalist Captain Samuel Avery of Connecticut and was born in Kings County, Nova Scotia; after graduation he practiced in Halifax.

*BERTHELET, Benjamin
1796-1847 (de galvanismo). Louis-Benjamin Berthelet, listed as “Canadensis”, returned to Canada and was registered to practice in December 1823; he practiced in Montréal for many years.

*FAIRBANKS, George Edward b.1798
(de uteri carcinomate) Listed as ex Nova Scotia, he moved to Brazil and died in Rio de Janeiro. " 1825, a North American pilgrims' descendant, George Edward Fairbanks, came ashore at Rio de Janeiro's port, coming from the East. He was a doctor from Edinburgh Royal Academy of Medicine, in Scotland, where he graduated. In Brazil, he chose Bahia State to live and to work as a Public Health Council member." (16) In 1833 he was one of the translators into Portuguese of Bell’s All the material facts in the history of epidemic cholera. (17)

*TRESTLER, Jean-Baptiste Curtius
1798-1871 (de rabie) Tresler’s father, Jean-Joseph, was probably an army surgeon who moved to Canada in 1776. (DCB) Trestler, who was probably - with Berthelet - the first francophone Canadian to graduate in medicine from Edinburgh, was licensed in 1822 and practiced in Québec and Montréal; in 1849 he became a professor in l'École de médecine et de chirurgie de Montréal for about a year.


MACBRAIRE, John 1802-1840 (de febre intermittente) Listed as “ex Nova Scotia”; he appears to have remained in Britain after graduation and was the author of several books published in the early 1830s. He was appointed Assistant Physician of the London Hospital in 1829 and resigned in 1832. In late 1832 he arrived in Australia and in 1833 was the medical officer of the prison settlement in Tasmania. It is noted that "John MacBraire ... [who] arrived in Port Arthur in April 1833 'had been disappointed in fortune or love but was reckoned to be very clever'. (18) He was appointed as a Justice of the Peace in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) in May 1833 and this was renewed in October 1837. Interestingly, his 1837 re-appointment was made by the Lieutenant Governor in the name of King William IV, who had died in June - presumably the news of Victoria's ascent to the throne had not yet reached Australia. In 1837 he was also appointed to the Court of Medical Examiners of Van Diemen's Land. (19) His family name is spelled M'Braire in the printed Edinburgh lists but he always seems to have used the MacBraire form. (Thesis is digitised at Wellcome Library.)


MORRIS, Frederick William 1802-1867 (de injuriis capitis) Noted as being “ex Nova Scotia”, Morris was apprenticed to William Almon (see above) before studying in Edinburgh. He practiced in various parts of Nova Scotia before settling in Halifax. In 1853 he was a founding member of the Halifax Medical Society but was later expelled for promoting and prescribing an unapproved remedy for smallpox.DCB While a student he published an article on trepanning. (20). (Thesis is digitised at Wellcome Library.)


BAYARD, Samuel 1805 1861 (de pertussi) Noted as being “ex Nova Scotia”, Samuel Bayard practiced in St. Stephen and, later, Saint John, New Brunswick; he is listed in the New Brunswick Almanack of 1835 and the 1851 Canadian census. He was the brother of Robert Bayard (see above). (Thesis is digitised at Wellcome Library.)

MACLEAN, John Jenkin
1801-1844 (de ascite) Noted as being "Canadensis", Maclean was born in Kingston and lived for a time in Québec. He remained in Britain after graduation and was married in England in 1820, was living in Kent in 1822 and in Boston, Lincolnshire in 1841; he died there, from typhoid. He was the grandson of Jenkin Williams, a judge in Québec. (DCB) His family name is sometimes spelled McLean. (Thesis is digitised at Wellcome Library.)


ARNOLDI, Francis Cornelius Thomas 1805-1862 (de asphyxia a mechanico impedimento ad respirationem) François-Cornélius-Thomas Arnoldi, the son of Daniel, (DCB) was one of the founders of the School of Medicine and Surgery of Montréal in 1843. (After 1849 the name was changed to l'École de médecine et de chirurgie de Montréal; the Hôtel Dieu was its teaching hospital.) Arnoldi was registered in 1827 and was the School’s first President; he taught at McGill in 1850-51. (14). (Thesis is digitised at Wellcome Library.)

PORTER, Francis William 1805-1840
(de cynanche tracheali) Porter was born in Montréal and he received his diploma from the Edinburgh Royal College of Surgeons in 1825; in October 1827 he was licenced to practice in Lower Canada (Quebec) and December 1828 was registered to practice in Upper Canada (Ontario). Caniff says "it is stated he had been an army surgeon' but this is unclear. He practiced in Niagara and was involved in improving medical licensure in Upper Canada. In 1833 he was elected as the first Secretary of the Niagara Society for the Prevention of Vagrancy and Common Begging and for the Relief of the Sick and Destitute. (13,21). (Thesis is digitised at Wellcome Library.)

*REED, Thomas Boucher d.1863/1864 (de phrenitide complectens). Reed is noted as "ex Insula Terrae Novae" and this usually means he was born in Newfoundland but did not live there immediately prior to enrolling at Edinburgh. His medical education was supported by his brother, Richard, who owned a slave plantation in Demerara (Guiana). In his will, written in 1824, Richard left "… the annual sum of two hundred pounds sterling money of Great Britain for the span of four years to be computed from the date of my said will for the purpose of enabling my said brother [Thomas] to finish his education as a surgeon or Physician." He also obtained an Edinburgh diploma of surgery (DRCS(E)) in 1827. His family owned plantations in Demerara and in 1863 Thomas was in Guiana working with lepers at the General Leper Asylum, Mahaicony; he reported on this to the Royal College of Physicians (London). In 1937, a descendent, also named Thomas Boucher Reed, was called the "Father of Sports in British Guiana".

The copy of Reed’s thesis in the Osler Library is dedicated, by hand, to his classmate, William Fleming, who subsequently moved to Australia.  It is also interesting to note that the thesis has a printed dedication to William Carson (1770-1843) the great Newfoundland reformer whose son, Samuel, graduated in 1830. It is unclear whether Reed ever lived in Newfoundland but he clearly had continuing links with his birth-place. (45, 46, 47,48)


BADGLEY, Francis 1807-1863 (de ophthalmia acuta.) Another of the founders of the École de médecine et chirurgie de Montréal. Badgley was also editor of the first medical journal in Montréal published in English, the Montréal Medical Gazette. He taught at McGill in 1849-50. He was registered to practice in Canada East in 1826, three years before he obtained his MD. He also practiced in Toronto and returned to England not long before his death to become a partner in the Malvern Water Establishment. (David notes that "notwithstanding the boasted virtues of this celebrated water cure, he did not prolong his life and died shortly after going there". According to Archibald Hall in his "Biographical Sketch of the late A.F. Holmes", Badgley was among the 25 students who attended the first medical lectures at the Montreal Medical Institution (the predecessor of the McGill Medical Faculty) in 1824-25. (DCB,14)


*CARSON, Samuel 1807-1860 (de stethoscopii in pneumonia cognoscenda usu) Though he was actually born in Birmingham (England) he moved to Newfoundland with his family in 1808 and Carson is the first graduate noted as being from ‘Terra Nova’. (Newfoundland). (But see note regarding Reed (1827) and Walsh (1818) above,) His father, William, was also a physician who had trained at, but not graduated from, Edinburgh (DCB). In 1848 Samuel was the first person to use chloroform in Newfoundland, he practiced in St John`s for over 30 years and died in Hamilton, Ontario. (22,23, 24)

1809-1831? (de bronchocele) James was the son of Dr William Robertson, the senior founding member of the McGill medical faculty. He was registered to practice in Québec in October 1831 but died shortly thereafter. Robertson was actually the first person registered after the Montreal Board of Medical Examiners was re-established under the Act to ... provide effectual Regulations covering the Practice of Physic, Surgery and Midwifery 1831; 1 William IV, c27. The copy of his thesis in the Toronto Public Library is dedicated to George Grasett, the Superintendent of St Michael’s Hospital and Chief Medical Officer at the Emigrant Hospital in the 1840s. (25 )


*BLACKWOOD, Thomas Smith 1810-1833 (de tetano traumatico) The son of prominent Montréal citizen Thomas Blackwood (DCB), the Osler Library's copy of his thesis is dedicated to his classmate John Racey. He died, in Montréal, during the 1833 typhus epidemic and seems not to have been registered to practice.

RACEY, John 1809-1847
(de hydrocephalo acuto). Racey, noted as being Canadensis, was registered to practice in Québec in 1832 and taught at McGill from 1833-36. He returned to his native Québec City in 1836 and died at the Marine Hospital there during the typhus epidemic of 1847. The memorial to him in the Holy Trinity (Anglican) Cathedral in Québec reads "Sacred to the memory of John Racey ...who died on 25th October 1847 of typhus, contracted in the conscientious and benevolent discharge of his professional duties." Some of his papers are in the McGill University Archives. (Racey family fonds - P057). His thesis is available, only in manuscript, at the University of Edinburgh. (25,26)

WEBSTER, Frederick Augustus 1807-1879
(de paralysi) Webster, noted as ex Nova Scotia, was born in Kentville and died in Yarmouth, where he practiced. He was the son of Dr. Isaac Webster, a Loyalist who arrived in Nova Scotia in the late 1700s, and was one of a long line of Nova Scotia doctors, who continue to practice in the Yarmouth area into the 21st century.


FORSYTH, John Elkanah 1806-1872 (de erysipelate) Also noted as being “ex Nova Scotia” he was born in Kings County. He was appointed coroner of Kings County, Nova Scotia in 1843 and was in medical practice in Bridgetown. In 1849 he was a director of the Halifax Mechanics' Institute and medical advisor to the Colonial Life Assurance Company in Halifax.

*JOHNSTON, James Bell
1810-1887 (de delirio tremente) Johnston, of East Angus Québec, was apparently the first doctor to establish a practice in Sherbrooke, Québec. Some of his papers are in the Osler Library. (James Bell Johnston fonds: P113.) He was licensed to practice in Lower Canada in 1831.

JONES, Thomas Walter 1811-1864
(de iodino, ejusque compositis) Jones was a member of one of the oldest English-speaking families in Montréal. Licensed in 1834, he was attending surgeon of the Montréal General Hospital and First Physician of the St George’s Society of Montréal. He was awarded an ad eundem degree by McGill in 1854. He was also appointed commander of the Queen's Light Dragoons, which saw active service during the rebellion of 1837-1838, and during the next decade were often called out by the government to quell election riots. (The McCord Museum in Montréal holds his private papers as part of the papers of the Queen’s Light Dragoons.) (25)

SEWELL, James Arthur 1810-1883
(de injuriis capitis) Sewell, the son of Chief Justice Jonathan Sewell, was another of the founders of l'École de médecine et de chirurgie de Montréal. He was licenced in Quebec in 1834. Later he was Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Laval University and was elected the 4th President of the Canadian Medical Association in 1871. He was also President of the Québec Medical Society. Two of his sons graduated from Edinburgh, in 1857 and 1864. (27)

TREMAIN, Lawrence 1811-1891
(de calculis urinariis et lithotritura) Listed as “ex Nova Scotia” Tremain was reported to be in practice in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, in 1847 and is listed as a Superintendent of Vaccination in Queen's County (Charlottetown) in 1877. He is buried in Tyron Peoples Cemetery in Queens County; his wife, who died in 1842, is buried (with their infant son) in the Old Burying Ground in Halifax, Nova Scotia. (28)


HALL, Archibald 1812-1868 (On respiratory function of plants). Starting in 1834 Edinburgh medical theses could be written in English and this is the first Canadian thesis not written in Latin. Hall, who was licenced in 1835, was professor of midwifery at McGill from 1836 until his death and also edited several medical journals including The British American Medical and Physical Journal. He was awarded an ad eundem degree by McGill in 1848. (14,15)


DAVID, Aaron Hart 1812-1882 (On infanticide) David was probably the first or second Jewish physician in Canada – though Frederick Webber Hart (of Trois-Rivières) who graduated from McGill and was registered to practice in 1835, is both a relative and at least his equal. David was registered to practice in Quebec in 1836, David moved to Trois-Rivières in 1840 but returned to Montréal in 1844 where he was an active physician and among the founders of the St Lawrence School of Medicine and Bishop’s Medical College, of which he was Dean from 1871 until his death. He was the founding editor of the Canada Medical Journal. (29)

MANSON, David Davidson 1811-1857
(On scarlatina) Noted as being “Neobrunsvisensis”, it is not clear when Manson moved to Britain but he inherited a house in Scotland, Spynie House near Elgin, and lived there, as a farmer and Captain in the Militia, until his death. He does not appear to have ever practiced medicine. Manson was the father of Ethel Gordon Fenwick who was Matron of St Bartholomew's Hospital, 1881-1887, founder of the Royal British Nurses' Association in 1887, originator of the movement for the state registration of nurses in 1888, founder and first President of the International Council of Nurses in 1899, founder and first President of the National Council of Nurses of Great Britain in 1904 and editor of The Nursing Record/ British Journal of Nursing, 1893-1946. (30)

SEWELL, Edward Quincy 1811-1872
(On dyspepsia) Edward Sewell, brother of Stephen (see below), was the eldest son of Stephen Sewell, at one time Solicitor-General of Lower Canada. He was born in Montréal and was licensed to practice in New York and both Lower and Upper Canada. He practiced in Montréal, Sorel and Toronto, where he died. (27)

SEWELL, Stephen Charles 1814-1865
(On intermittent fever) Stephen Sewell, brother of Edward and cousin of James Arthur (1833) was born in Montréal. He was registered in 1835 and taught at McGill from 1842-1848 and 1850-1852 when he moved to Ottawa, where he died. In 1849 he resigned from McGill and moved to Lennoxville where he was offered a position with Bishops' College but apparently he did not stay there very long. (British American Journal of Medical and Physical Sciences, v. 5, 1849 (1 November) p 193-194). While a student in Edinburgh he was elected as President of the Royal Medical Society - a student medical organisation. He was awarded an ad eundem degree by McGill in 1843.and was a member of the Montréal Medical Board for several years. (14,27) Obituary: Canada Medical Journal and monthly record of medical and surgical science. v.2:7 1866 p 334.


BLACK, Rufus Smith 1812-1893 (On the pathology and treatment of murbus coxarius) Noted as “ex Nova Scotia”, Black, who practiced in Halifax, became one of the first vice-presidents of the Canadian Medical Association in 1867. He was the grandson of Dr Rufus Black, who had come with the Loyalists and settled in Westmorland County, New Brunswick. He is reputed to be the first person to have used a stethoscope in Nova Scotia. (31)

BURTON, Edward John 1814-1897
(On delirium tremens) Noted as “Canadensis” he was a cousin of Sir Richard Burton (32). In 1836, following graduation, he became a British Army surgeon and served in Ceylon and at Sebastopol during the Crimean War (1853-56). In 1864 Staff Surgeon Major Edward John Burton MD was reported to have retired and been granted the honorary rank of Deputy Inspector General of Hospitals. For some reason this honorary appointment was cancelled about 9 months later. (33,34)

COGSWELL, Charles 1813-1892
(On the predisposing causes of urinary concretions) Noted as being “ex Nova Scotia”, after graduation Cogswell travelled to study in hospitals in London and Paris. In 1837 he was awarded the Harveian Prize dissertation for an essay on iodine. 35) He returned to Halifax in 1838, where he established a practice, and in 1844 he became the first secretary of the newly established Halifax Medical Society. He returned to England in 1864 and practiced there until his death. (36,37)

MacNIDER, William 1815-1846
(On dyspepsia) In the Edinburgh records his family name is spelled MacNider but he appears to have sometimes used the McNider version. He was licenced in Quebec in 1837 and was Surgeon of the Montréal Light Infantry during the 1837 rebellion, lectured on obstetrics at l'École de médecine et de chirurgie de Montréal, and was one of the founders, in 1843, of the Montréal Lying-in Hospital. (14) (Obituary: British American Journal of Medical and Physical Sciences. v.1. (1846), 335-336.


BAYARD, William 1814-1907 (On Asiatic cholera) Noted as being “Novo Brunsvico”. Son of Robert (above) Bayard was the Coroner of Saint John and appears to have been the first physician in New Brunswick to use anaesthesia. He was a member of the Saint John Board of Health and was the founder of the Public General Hospital in Saint John, of which he wrote a history.(38) He was present at the first meeting of the Canadian Medical association in 1868 and received an honorary LLD from Edinburgh in 1907. He was a corresponding editor of the Canada Medical Journal. (DCB,39)

MADDEN, William Herries 1815-1883
(On the connexion [sic] between the muscles and nervous system.) Madden is listed as coming from “Novo Brunsvico and he remained in Britain after graduation, practicing in Torquay in Devon. Madden enjoyed some success as an author and translator; in 1837 he won a Gold Medal from Edinburgh for an essay, (40)  and later translated a French anatomy book into English, wrote several poems, a book on baptism and one on tuberculosis. (41)


FISHER, Arthur 1816-1913 (On asphyxia) Fisher, noted as “Canadensis”, came from Montréal and was initially (in 1833) apprenticed to a doctor in Québec City (James Douglas (DCB)); he enrolled in the McGill medical school in 1834 but left to go to Edinburgh. He received his licence in 1842 and spent most of his long professional life in Montréal where he was an early practitioner of homeopathy. He was demonstrator in anatomy at McGill from 1842 to 1844 and connected to the Montréal Homeopathic Hospital. (42 )

STIRLING, William [McCleery Carrington] 1816-1890 (On diabetes mellitus). Stirling is noted as being "ex-America Septentrionali". He was born in Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, son of an Irish doctor, William Archibald Stirling, who had practiced there since about 1808. Dr Stirling (senior) was described as "... an Irishman of much ability, [who] was the founder and the first president of the Harbour Grace Benevolent Irish Society." After graduation William Stirling first practiced with his father in Harbour Grace. He moved to Twillingate in 1843 as its first doctor and was the father of the Newfoundland opera star - the Nightingale of the North - Georgina Ann Stirling. (24, 43, 48, 49).

1818 - 1865 (On Cancer). In the Edinburgh lists (1, 2) his name is misspelled as Petres and he is described as coming from America Septentrionali. In fact, he came from, and returned to, Gagetown, New Brunswick. He gained some local fame by amputating both legs of the frozen man of Queen's County. In 1848 he was appointed Surgeon to the Queen's County Militia. He was a member of the Peters family of St John and a cousin of Martin Hunter Peters (who graduated from Edinburgh in 1843). (50, 51)

ROWAND, Alexander 1816 - 1889 (On uterine haemorrhage). Rowand, a Metis, was born at Fort Edmonton, the son of John Rowand the Chief Factor of the Hudson Bay Company and grandson of Dr John Rowand of Montreal. He is listed as coming from America Septentrionali and was probably the first "Albertan" to obtain a medical degree (Alberta was not founded until 1905) and immediately after graduation he accompanied Hudson Bay Company Governor George Simpson on his 1841/42 circumnavigation of the world where he acted as one of Simpson's secretaries. He received his Quebec licence in 1845 and initially practiced in Montreal where, in 1846, he was Assistant Surgeon to the Montreal Rifle Battalion. In 1847 he moved to Quebec City as Port Medical Officer, Chair of Clinical Surgery at the Quebec School of Medicine (l’École de médecine de Québec) and Visiting Physician of the Marine and Immigrant Hospital. In 1861 he was appointed a governor for life of Morrin College. (52, 53) (The notice of his death in the Montreal Medical Journal, v. 17 p 798 refers to him as "John Rowand", this is a misprint.)



A number of reference works or directories provided much information on individuals, among the most useful were:

43. Rusted, N. Medicine in Newfoundland c.1497 to the early 20th century : the physicians and surgeons: biographical gleanings. St Johns, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1994. (Occasional papers in the history of medicine ; no. 14.)

44. Great Britain. Colonial Office. Nova Scotia, &c: copies or extracts of any correspondence received from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland, relative to the constitution of the Legislative and Executive Councils of those colonies. London, 1839. (Parliamentary papers / Great Britain. Parliament (1837-1841). House of Commons ; 579, 1839.) Available freely at:

45. UK National Archives. Papers of the Royal College of Physicians. Leprosy  RCP/OFFIP/4119/55  February 1863. Reply from Dr Thomas B. Reed, General Leper Asylum, Mahaicony, British Guiana to interrogatory issued by RCP re leprosy.

46. Who is who in British Guiana. 1935-1937. Georgetown, The Daily Chronicle, 1937.

47. Will of Richard Reed from: Newfoundland Will books (Probated Wills of the Supreme Court) volume 1 pages 129 to 132 probate year 1831. (Available at:

48. Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador.  St. John’s, Nfld.,  Newfoundland Book Publishers, 1981-1994. (Digitised copy freely available from the Memorial University Library.)

49. Twillingate Museum Exhibit, Georgina Ann Sterling.

50, Cameron, Ian. The frozen man of Queen's County: surgical and social outcomes in the 1860s. Canadian Family Physician Vol 55: August 2009. p. 813-814.

51. Flint, Martha B. Peters lineage: five generations of the descendants of Dr. Charles Peters, of Hempstead, ([Poughkeepsie, N.Y., 1896])

52. Mitchell, Ross. Doctor Alexander Rowand, 1816?-1889, Calgary Associate Clinic. Historical Bulletin, vol. 7, no. 4. 1943, pp 1-5.

53. Mitchell, Ross. Student from Red River Colony awarded Edinburgh medical degree. Manitoba Medical Association Review, vol. 15, 1935. pp 18-20.


Information on Thomas B Reed (1827) added 3 July 2013, 18 August 2013 and 10 September 2013..
Information on John Walsh (1818) added 4 July 2013.
Information on John Robertson (1813) added 7 July 2013.
Information on William Stirling (!839) added 21 December 2013 and 11 December 2014.
Information on Harry Peters (1840) added 21 December 2013.
Information on Alexander Rowand (1840) added 22 December 2013
Information on John Jenkin Maclean (1825) added on 23 January 2014
Information on John Elkanah Forsyth (1833) added 2 March 2014
Information on Stephen Charles Sewell (1834) added and adjusted (date of death) 9 December 2014.
Information on Francis Badgley (1829) added (re. his attendance at Montreal Medical Institution) 20 March 2015.
Information on Aaaron Hart David (1835) adjusted to show that his relative Frederick Webber Hart was actually registered to practice before David. 18 July 2015.
Information on additional dates of licencing in Ontario and Quebec added. December 2017
Information on Thomas B Reed about service on St Helena removed. January 2018.
Information on digitization by Wellcome Library added 9 August 2020
Information on several birth/death dates updated. December 2022.