Papers of Angus Macbeth Thomson, 1914-1994, professor of social obstetrics; and James Thomson, c1845-1876, arts and divinity student, University of Glasgow, Scotland

Scope and Content

  • Papers of Angus M Thomson, 1936-1990;
  • Papers of James Thomson, 1870-1876.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Thomson was born c1845, the youngest of seven children of William Thomson, a handloom weaver from Cumnock in Ayrshire. He was the first of his family to attain academic distinction, having obtained a Clark Scholarship to study at the University of Glasgow, Scotland in  1864 . He took classes in Latin, Logic, Ethics, Greek, Mathematics, Physics, Hebrew, Divinity, Ecclesiastical History, and Biblical Criticism. He graduated with an MA in  1874 . There were periods during the decade when he matriculated, namely in 1870-71 and 1872-73, that no record of classes attended is given, probably due to ill health. His ultimate aim was to study for a Divinity degree and he was awarded the Rae Wilson Gold Medal for the best essay on The Christology of the Synoptic Gospels, in 1875. He was a favourite student of Edward Caird, the Professor of Moral Philosophy, who encouraged him to continue with his Divinity studies despite failing health. The long duration of his studies is possibly explained partly by his health and partly by having to make ends meet by tutoring. It may have been on his doctor's advice that he seek healthier climes which prompted his visit to Heidelberg in Germany and at the same time take postgraduate courses in Philosophy. Whilst there, he moved to Badenweiler for health reasons, but died of pulmonary tuberculosis in 1876  aged 31, shortly after his arrival.

The James Thomson Philosophical Entrance Bursary was founded in 1878 on the proceeds of a sum of £300. A pamphlet which after his death asked for subscriptions to a memorial bursary speaks of "the ablest of [students being] condemned to add to the severe labour of a Scottish University course the exhausting drudgery of private tuition. The result is that many of the most vigorous and promising men are brought to a premature death by over study. An unmistakeable case of this kind occurred during the summer of 1876, when the University of Glasgow lost one of its most distinguished students -Mr. James Thomson, of Cumnock Ayrshire." The bursary still continues today.

Angus Macbeth Thomson, born in India in  1914 , was the son of David Thomson who worked in the Indian Educational Service. Angus was also the great nephew of James Thomson. Angus began attending the University of Glasgow, Scotland in  1931 . He took classes in Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, Botany, Zoology, Anatomy, Physiology, Surgery Pathology, Bacteriology and Materia Medicine. He graduated BSc in  1934 , before going on to take classes in Medicine, Midwifery and Surgery to complete his MB ChB in  1937 . At the outbreak of the Second World War (1939-1945), Thomson served with the Royal Army Medical Corps in India, and was appointed assistant director of medical services in 1943. Thomson became the director of the Medical Research Council's Reproduction and Growth Unit and Professor of Social Obstetrics at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne (1966-79). He was elected Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 1967. Angus Thomson died in Newcastle in 1994.


The arrangement of this material reflects the original order in which it was received

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Deposit : Dr Angus M Thomson : 1990

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Archivist.

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 248 procedures

Custodial History



None expected

Related Material

No related material

Location of Originals

This material is original


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

Fonds level description compiled by Vikki Laidlaw, Hub Project Assistant, 3 March 2005. Description converedt to Encoded Archival Description by Andrew Thomson, Hub Project Archivist, 24 March 2005. Lower levels compiled by Elva MacLean and edited by Alma Topen, Senior Assistant Archivist (cataloguing), 19 February 2016. Amended by Sam Maddra, Assistant Archivist (cataloguing), 14 December 2016.