Papers of Sir Benjamin Fonseca Outram (1774-1856)

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 237 Coll-308
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      1 envelope containing assorted papers and diplomas, 1 cylinder diplomas.
  • Location
      Dc.1.100.5; Dk.1.30; SRI Cyl.5. (Da.81.3), no.17, no.18, no.21

Scope and Content

There is material covering 1794-1856 in the form of correspondence and papers. In Dc.1.100 there are: botanical notes made by Outram of various tropical trees and plants growing in and around the Azores; various letters; miscellaneous invitations; and, diplomas. There is also: a summary of Outram's career as a naval surgeon; a photograph, c.1854; a memoir; material relating to the family; testimonial and certificate; a warrant and official announcement relating to his knighthood; and, a codicil to his will. In Cyl.5., no.17, no.18, and no.21 there are: a Diploma of the degree of MD, Edinburgh University, 1809; a Diploma of the Licentiateship of the Royal College of Physicians of London, 1810; and, a Diploma of the Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians of London, 1852.

Administrative / Biographical History

Benjamin Fonseca Outram was born in Yorkshire in 1774. He was educated as a surgeon in London and was first employed in the naval medical service in 1794. He served on the 'Harpy', 'La Nymphe', and 'Boadicea'. During the Napoleonic Wars and in a famous action off Cadiz when Sir James De Saumarez (1757-1836) was victorious over the French and Spanish fleets on 12 July 1801, Outram was surgeon on the vessel 'Superb'. For his services under Sir Richard Goodwin Keats (1757-1834) during the hostilities, Outram was decorated. For some years after this, he served as surgeon on the yacht 'Royal Sovereign'. With the ambition of becoming a general practitioner, he went to Edinburgh University in 1806 and he graduated with the degree of Doctor of Medicine on 24 June 1809. His thesis was entitled De Febre continua (1809). Outram was licensed by the Royal College of Physicians of London in 1810 and he began to practice as a physician at Hanover Square, London, which would be his home for some forty years. In 1838, he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and he was one of the first members of the Royal Geographical Society. In 1841, he became Her Majesty's Medical Inspector of Fleets and Hospitals, and was knighted in 1850. Sir Benjamin Fonseca Outram died in Brighton on 16 February 1856.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.


The biographical history was compiled using the following material: (1) Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol.14. Myllar-Owen. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1909.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.