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See also, details of some individual Doctors and Surgeons.

A doctor may also be known as a Surgeon or (prior to 1873) an Assistant Surgeon. The term Medical Officer is also used. Most of this article refers to surgeons who were employed by the Bengal, Madras, Bombay or Indian Medical Service/Departments. However some surgeons in British Army regiments were part of the Royal Army Medical Corps of the British Army.

For Assistant Surgeons from 1894, refer Apothecary

On 3 April 1943, the Indian Medical Service was amalgamated into the Indian Army Medical Corps, along with the Indian Medical Department, and the Indian Hospital & Nursing Corps

This article contains many links to historical online books.


Online records

  • The following records are available on the pay website findmypast (as at June 2014) as the collection British India Office Assistant Surgeons, a section of the British India Office Collection.[1] These records are located in the category Education & work/Professions.
    • IOR/L/MIL/9/358, 360-364, 366-396 Assistant-Surgeons’ Papers, 1804-1854
    • IOR/L/MIL/9/397-408 Papers of Assistant-Surgeons selected by the Board of Examiners,, 1855-1881
    • IOR/L/MIL/9/409 Annual list of Assistant-Surgeons appointed giving Presidency, nominating Director and date of appointment, with separate lists of rank, 1787-1791
    • IOR/L/MIL/9/410 Annual lists of Assistant-Surgeons appointed giving Presidency, nominating Director, date of appointment and ship, 1791-1814
    • IOR/L/MIL/9/411 Annual lists of rank of Assistant-Surgeons, Madras Bengal and Bombay, 1794-1814
    • IOR/L/MIL/9/412 Register of candidates for Assistant-Surgeon posts giving address, dates of application and examination, result, and date of returning diplomas. 1865-1877
    • IOR/L/MIL/9/413-418 Papers of Surgeons selected by the Board of Examiners, 1882-1894
    • IOR/L/MIL/9/419 Papers of candidates selected for the Indian Medical Service, 1895-1896
  • findmypast, pay website, also contains the database Britain, Physicians and Surgeons, 1830-1923. Based on data from Calendar of The Royal College of Surgeons in England 1865 to 1923, and Members of The Royal College of Physicians 1830 to 1918, in addition to online books, which are available online (for free), see below. Note these are databases in respect of Specialist doctors.
  • Ancestry, a pay website, in the category Schools, Directories & Church Histories has the following databases:
    • "UK, Roll of the Indian Medical Service, 1615 -1930". (Released October 2016). This database consists of Index records and page images from the book of the same name by D.G. Crawford, see below under Lists of medical officers.
    • "UK & Ireland, Medical Directories, 1845-1942" (Released October 2016).
  • The British Medical Journal is available online from 1840 and is a source of information, particularly the obituaries. It probably has more relevance for English, rather than Scottish doctors. However, it is now only available to those who have a personal or institutional subscription. Search the archives directly or access BMJ and other online journals through PubMed Central (PMC is the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature). Some editions are available online at (refer below)
  • Lives of the Fellows of the Royal College Of Physicians. Search by Name. Obituaries of past Fellows [Specialist Physicians]. Royal College of Physicians, London. Based on twelve publications, the first four being:
The Roll of the Royal College of Physicians of London, comprising biographical sketches of all the eminent physicians whose names are recorded in the Annals .. by William Munk
Volume I 1518 to 1700; Volume II 1701 to 1800; Volume III 1801 to 1825. All 2nd edition, revised and enlarged 1878
Lives of the Fellows of the Royal College of Physicians of London 1826-1925 compiled by G H Brown 1955 Catalogued as Volume 4 of the above series. Contains references to Indian service.

British Library

The British Library information page, now archived, 'Indian Medical Service' lists records available in the BL.

There are also “detailed records of service of surgeons and assistant-surgeons, compiled at East India House” to 1858. Bengal Service Army Lists - Medical IOR/L/MIL/10/70-74 c 1765-1858 and LDS microfilm catalogue entry; Madras Service Army Lists - Medical IOR/L/MIL/11/70-72 c 1760-1858 and LDS microfilm catalogue entry; Bombay Service Army Lists - Medical IOR/L/MIL/12/85-87 1763-1858 and LDS microfilm catalogue entry. It is not known to what extent these records are included in Crawford’s book Roll of the Indian Medical Service, refer below.

Records are available on the pay website findmypast (as at June 2014) as the collection British India Office Assistant Surgeons, a section of the British India Office Collection.[1] Refer Online records above.

Two histories of the Indian Medical Service, which also contain some biographical details are:

  • A History of the Indian Medical Service, 1600-1913 (two volumes) by D. G. Crawford 1914. Volume I, Volume II There are also additional files available on
  • Surgeons twoe and a Barber. Being some account of the life and work of the Indian Medical Service, 1600-1947 by Lieut.-Colonel Donald McDonald 1950. (This book appears in the British Library catalogue under the name MacDonald). More details about the book are contained in these reviews: Review 1 and Review 2

A pdf document by the Wellcome Library lists records in the British Library relating to medicine and health, including manuscripts.

Science and the Changing Environment in India 1780-1920: A Guide to Sources in the India Office Records by Richard Axelby and Savithri Preetha Nair 2009. The guide is arranged in eleven chapters including one in respect of health and disease including medical education. Refer Research guides reading list for more details of this book.

Lists of medical officers

Two particularly useful books, listing service histories etc, are:

This book includes chapters relating to Bengal (pages 1-243), Madras (pages 244-390), Bombay (pages 391-496), General List 1897-1930 (pages 497-601), Eastern Factories 1605-1775 (pages 602-604); Sumatra or West Coast 1696-1825 (pages 605-617); St. Helena 1684-1831 (pages 618-622); China 1763-1834 (pages 623-624); Prince of Wales Island (page 625); Appendices from page 629. If you are browsing the book through Ancestry, there are errata pages at the beginning of the digital file, before "Contents", pages xv-xvi, digital images 67-68.

Other online lists:

Medical women in India page 114 Englishwoman’s Year Book and Directory 1900 There is also a list for China.
  • For some women doctors mentioned in annual reports of the "National Association for Supplying Female Medical Aid to the Women of India", part of The Countess of Dufferin’s Fund, see Historical books online below.
  • "God’s Acre in North-West India" by Colonel R. H. Firth Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps 1914. A record of the names, the careers, and details as to the graves of, or monuments to, all the medical officers buried or memorialized in the Punjab, the North-west Frontier Province, and Kashmir. Part 1 Volume 23:3 320-333 and Part 2 Volume 23:4 415-439
  • Indian Army Officers 1939-1945

Other lists:

  • Thacker's Medical Directory of India, Burma and Ceylon, published 1913-1915. The 1914 edition is at the British Library UIN: BLL01000948664 - enquire if there are additional volumes as it is classified as a Journal, perhaps implying more than one edition. 1913 and 1915 editions appear to be available at Oxford and Cambridge University Libraries, and the National Library of Scotland.
  • Thacker's Indian Medical Directory, published 1922-1924. Available at Oxford University Library and the National Library of Scotland, but this title is not listed in the British Library catalogue.

Royal Army Medical Corps and the earlier British Army Medical Services

The Royal Army Medical Corps was established by Royal Warrant on 23rd June 1898. Prior to this there had been two distinct organisations within the Army Medical Services, the Medical Staff (i.e. the officers), and the Medical Staff Corps , which were combined to form the RAMC.

For British Army medical personnel, the previously named Army Medical Services Museum's FAQs now archived page, advises that the AMSM has some details for officers who held a regular commission with the Army Medical Department and the RAMC until 1960. The museum has a small booklet available with useful advice for researching relatives who served with the AMS. Note: there has been a change of name to The Museum of Military Medicine. Also refer British Army for personnel records.

The British Library has the India Office Records: British Army in India: British Medical Officers serving in India IOR/L/MIL/15/20 1872-1912.

The book Commissioned officers in the medical services of the British Army, 1660-1960 is available online, see below.

Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps is now available online from 1903, refer below. "Since its early days the Journal also published “Corps News” which gave details of personal occurences of members of the RAMC including the promotion and postings of officers, honours and awards, qualifications gained by senior NCOs of the Corps, casualties whilst on campaign and obituaries of serving officers" [2] Note the "Corps News" appears to be at the back of each monthly edition, and may not be indexed.

First World War

Many doctors were granted temporary commissions in the RAMC. Unfortunately, as the RAMC (Temp) officers only served for the duration of the war, their service records were destroyed after 1920. Those for RAMC officers who received permanent commissions between 1871 and 1922, accessible via the index in WO 338/23, are listed in WO 339
The catalogue entry for WO 339 advises it includes records of British reserve officers who were commissioned into the Indian Army.

Historical books online

Commissioned officers in the medical services of the British Army, 1660-1960 2 Volumes, in one digital file. Vol.1: 1660-1727 by A. Peterkin; 1727-1898 by William Johnston; Vol. 2 1898-1960 by R. Drew. If you read the book online, it is suggested you use full screen. There is an index at the back of the book. Wellcome Library online.
Excluded are the great majority of the Surgeons' Mates (Assistant Surgeons) who served during the eighteenth century, who were warrant officers, serving with warrants given by the Colonel commanding their regiments, and not commissioned officers, serving with warrants conferred by the King.[3]
Other online sources: Volume 11, 1908, Index; Volume 12, 1909, index; Volume 15, 1910, Index; Volume 17, 1911, Index. Pdfs to download from the Digital Library of India.
Volume 25, Jul –Dec 1915

Volume 25 Index

1 (Jul)

Corps News

2 (Aug)

Corp News

3 (Sep)

Corps News

5 (Nov)

Corps News

Volume 30, Jan—Jun 1918

Volume 30 Index

2 (Feb)

Corps News

3 (Mar)

Corps News

4 (Apr)

Corps News

5 (May)

Corps News

6 (Jun)

Corps News

Volume 31, Jul-Dec 1918

Volume 31 Index

1 (Jul)

Corps News

2 (Aug)

Corps News

3 (Sep)

Corps News

4 (Oct)

Corps News

6 (Dec)

Corps News

Historical background

Also see Public health

Working conditions and duties

7th edition 1921 by L A Waddell, Lt.-Colonel IMS (Retd).
  • Around the world via India : a medical tour by Nicholas Senn 1905. Contains chapters on India and Ceylon, including hospitals.
  • Fifty Thousand Miles on a Hospital Ship by “The Padre” [Charles Steel Wallis] 1917 The hospital ship that Padre Wallis joined in 1915 was most likely the 'Goorkha'.[4] She was then an Indian Hospital Ship staffed by doctors from the Indian Medical Service, although subsequently became a British Hospital Ship.
  • Their Footprints Remain: Biomedical Beginnings across the Indo-Tibetan Frontier (pdf) by Alex McKay International Institute for Asian Studies 2007 Contents page 6(of the pdf) Notes page 250 Bibliography page 286 Index page 304, part of the Digital Academic Repository van de Universiteit van Amsterdam.
    • page 43, has a section in the introduction called "The Indian Medical Service and the Subordinate Medical Service". Chapter 1 (page 56) is called "Missionary Medicine and the Rise of Kalimpong"
  • The Medical Profession in India by Major-General Sir Patrick Hehir [1923]
  • I’d Live it Again by Lieut.-Col E J O’Meara, Indian Medical Service (rtd) 1935 version, mirror from Digital Library of India. The author is catalogued as Meara. An autobiography. He joined the IMS in 1898.
  • Indian Medical Service: A Handbook by Major A. N. Chopra 1939 version, mirror from Digital Library of India.

Medical Journals

  • Transactions of the Medical and Physical Society of Calcutta Volume 4 1829, Volume 7 1835 Google Books
  • Madras Quarterly Medical Journal 1839 to 1844 - many interesting articles by Madras surgeons including medical reports on various regiments. Google Books
Volume 1 1839,Volume 2 1840,Volume 3 1841, Volume 4 1842,Volume 5 1843,Volume 6 1844
  • Madras Quarterly Journal of Medical Science Google Books
Volume 1 1860, Volume 2 1861, Volume 3 1861, Volume 4 1862, Volume 5 1862, Volume 6 1863,Volume 7 1863, Volume 8 1865, Volume 9 1866, Volume 10 1866, Volume 11 1867, Volume 12 1868, Index to Volumes 1-12, pages 409-470 of Volume 12
  • The Madras Monthly Journal of Medical Science Google Books
Volume 2 July-December 1870, Index, Volume 3, January-June 1871 Index, Volume 4, July-December 1871 Index, Google Books. 1872, Index to Volume V Hathi Trust
Scientific Memoirs by Officers of the Medical and Sanitary Departments of the Government of India. Broken range of editions from New Series Volume 1 1902 to New Series Volume 60 1913.
  • A broken range of editions of the British Medical Journal 1862-1923 is available at including the First World War years





















For appointment procedures, refer to the Individuals section Doctors and Surgeons and George Aldred.

Field hospitals

William Lewis M'Gregor, a surgeon himself, writing in his The history of the Sikhs (Vol 1, 1846), describes the work of a regimental surgeon during the 1st Sikh War and calls for field hospitals to be used in future conflicts. "The Loodianah Field Hospital, With Remarks On The State of The Army Medical Department in India" by John Murray, M.D., Field Surgeon, page 158, Medical Times (published in 1849) is an account of a Field Hospital after battle in 1846, including medical details, with the slightly wounded carried out on elephants. "Field Arrangements in India" from Army Hygiene by Charles Alexander Gordon M.D. (1866) describes the Logistics of a Field Hospital, including details of the number of camels required.

Civil Surgeons

Civil Surgeons, it seems, led demanding and frustrating lives although the pay was better than in the Military and the range of professional duties greater.

Assistant Surgeons, and sometimes Surgeons, in civil employment were often Superintendent of Jails.

Non-medical duties

Some surgeons were engaged in work which today would be regarded as scientific or senior administrative roles. Most of the botanists in the earlier years were surgeons, see botanists and naturalists for more information. WCB Eatwell MD was ‘First Asst. and Opium Examiner. Board of Customs, Salt and Opium’. He was the author of “Report no.1: On the Poppy Cultivation, and the Benares Opium Agency” from Selections from the Records of the Government of Bengal (1851) Google Books.

“Doctors as Civil and Political Officers” by Lieut-Col D G Crawford I.M.S from The Indian Medical Gazette, Volume 39, 1904, page 1.

External links

Online draft of this article Wellcome Library RAMC/1582, catalogued as "Draft of "The journal of Patrick Sinclair Laing, assistant surgeon, 86th (Royal County Down) Regiment of Foot, 1842 to 1847, in India"". Note, the draft is longer, and has information from 1842.
Patrick Sinclair Laing was a member of the British Army Medical Services.

Historical books online

"Transportation of Sick and Wounded" page 240 Military Surgery by George Williamson 1863 Includes details of conveyances used in India.
  • Annual Report for the National Association for Supplying Female Medical Aid to the Women of India for the year... [part of The Countess of Dufferin’s Fund]
1891 including "Lady doctors" page 52; 1909; 1918 including "Members of the Women’s Medical Service for India" (digital page 747). All


  1. 1.0 1.1 The British in India Collection British Library Help for Researchers, now an archived webpage.
  2. Archived JRAMC webpage.
  3. Preface, Roll of the Indian Medical Service 1615-1930, Volume One by D.G. Crawford 1930 Google Books.
  4. frev. Norwegian Matron on Indian Hospital Ship Great War Forum 3 October 2017. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  5. Felice Beato: A Photographer on the Eastern Road, photograph 114, exhibition at the J Paul Getty Museum