Veterinary Surgeon

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Information relating to Veterinary Surgeons.

An advice from Fort William dated April 12, 1827 advised that following the decision to appoint regularly educated Veterinary Surgeons, Sub -assistant Veterinary Surgeons were to be given the choice of taking their discharge, or of entering the subordinate branch of the medical staff.[1]


Veterinary Surgeons were initially (and at least until the 1860s and probably the 1880s) part of the Presidency Medical Departments, which became the Indian Medical Service and which in turn was part of the Army structure. Most listings of Surgeons and Assistant Surgeons will contain a list of Veterinary Surgeons at the end.

The British Library page, now archived, on the Indian Medical Service gives details of records.

Veterinary Surgeons of the Governor-General’s Bodyguard, page 296, Historical records of the Governor-General's Body Guard by Vernon Charles Paget Hodson 1910


  • The Madras Veterinary Establishment was set up in 1810 and boys from the Military Male Asylum and the Charity School were to be trained in the veterinary art, with the eventual rank of farriers.[2]
  • British Library catalogue entry IOR/F/4/738/20145 May 1796-Nov 1822 Further papers regarding the training establishment for veterinary students at Baliganj, [Ballygunge] Calcutta
  • British Library catalogue entry IOR/F/4/661/18358 Mar 1821, in respect of Bengal: Appointment of J.T. Hodgson as Veterinary Surgeon to the Governor General's Body Guard - he is to select and train eight Assistant Apothecaries as Veterinary Surgeons for the Light Cavalry Regiments. Refer Apothecary - Duties.
  • British Library catalogue entry IOR/F/4/889/23120 Further papers regarding the veterinary training establishment at Baliganj [Ballygunge] (includes returns of students on 1 Jul 1823, and 1 Jan 1824, pp 12-13, 85-86)
  • Page 3 of "History and Scope of Veterinary Medicine" (pdf) by MA Samad and MU Ahmed talks about the history of Veterinary Medicine in the Indian Sub- continent. It advises an Army Veterinary School was established at Poona in 1862, The first Veterinary College was set up at Babugarh in 1877, followed by Lahore in 1882, Bombay in 1886, and Madras and Calcutta in 1893
  • Bombay Veterinary College was established 2 August 1886 according to this MAFSU(Maharashtra Animal and Fishery Sciences University) link. It also contains a paragraph about William Moorcroft in addition to historical information.
  • The Madras Veterinary College TANUVAS


William Moorcroft

William Moorcroft (Wikipedia) was the first English Veterinary Surgeon at Pusa. In describing the book Beyond Bokhara: The Life of William Moorcroft, Asian Explorer and Pioneer Veterinary Surgeon 1767-1825 by Garry Alder (1985), Bill Buxton states on his exploration website:

"This is the only biography of William Moorcroft, one of the great early explorers of the region north west of India. He was a veterinarian who came to India in 1808 as Superintendent of East India Company's horses. He traveled widely, ostensibly in search of breeding stock, but this was clearly more of a pretext than fact. He undertook a journey into western Tibet in 1812, across the Garhwal Himalaya to Lake Manasarowar, Mount Kailas region, the Rakas Tal, and Gartok. Moorcroft and Hearsey were the first Englishmen in the area.
"His next major trip was to Bokhara. He left British territory in 1820, for a trip that would last until 1825. Due to civil unrest in Afghanistan, he decided to go via Ladakh and Chinese Turkistan. He waited in Leh for permission from Kashgar, during which time he traveled and explored the greater part of Ladakh, the Karakoram Pass, the head-waters of the Yarkand River, the Western Himalaya, the Karakoram and the NW Frontier. In 1824, after deciding that permission would never come , he decided to go via Afghanistan, regardless of the civil conflict there. Traveled through Kashmir and Punjab, over the Khyber Pass, across the Oxus, and got to Bokhara. He died during the return trip."[3]

Elsewhere on his site, Buxton gives a short, but fuller biography of Moorcroft, including a bibliography.

Tournament of Shadows : the great game and the race for empire in Central Asia Lending Library.

Historical books available online include


  • Listen to the 1977 interview with John Clabby, British officer served with Royal Army Veterinary Corps in India, 1933- 1947. Imperial War Museums. Interview 937.


Camels were also called oonts, [4] the Hindustani word for both camel and camels.[5]

External links

Another summary of "Veterinary Science in India" by Sir Arthur Olver from Nature 141, 480-481 (12 March 1938).
The address by Sir Arthur Olver in his presidential address before the Section of Veterinary Research is in Proceedings Of The Twenty-fifth Indian Science Congress Part-ii 1938, page 315 which is available online, refer Historical books online, below.
The author of this paper also wrote The History of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, 1919-1961 by J. Clabby 1963, available online if you have Hathi Trust University access.

Historical books online

A manual of the diseases of the elephant and of his management and uses by John Henry Steel 1885
A manual of the diseases of the camel and of his management and uses by John Henry Steel 1890
Tweed's Cow-keeping In India 5th edition, revised by S N Sinha, 1931
Elephants and their Diseases. A Treatise on Elephants by Lieut.-Colonel GH Evans , Superintendent, Civil Veterinary Department, Burma 1910. Revised edition.
Notes on elephants and their care by the late Mr W Hepburn. 2nd Impression 1919 (first published 1918? or 1913?) Rangoon. Click to a separate digital file for inserts. The author worked as Veterinary Surgeon to the BBTC Ltd (Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation). Digital Library University of Missouri. mirror version.


  1. Naval and Military Magazine Volume 3, 1828, page cxi of "Naval and Military Miscellany"
  2. Samuel, E., Asiatic annual register Vol 12 (London: 1812) p.139
  3. Buxton, Bill "Books on History and Exploration: Annotated Bibliography". Retrieved December 11th, 2009.
  4. Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem titled "Oonts" in 1890.
  5. "Oonts" Notes on the text