Papers of Sir George Ballingall (1780-1855)

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The Sir George Ballingall material is composed of correspondence and papers, 1801-1855. In March 1995, when researching in Edinburgh University Library, Dr. Roger Cooter of the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, in Manchester, dictated the papers onto tape and produced transcripts of about 70 per cent of the documents, following the order in which they had been placed in the original boxes. The transcripts, produced in haste, and which may not be accurate in detail, have been placed in MS 3082/11. Otherwise, Ballingall's correspondence is arranged alphabetically and by sender or recipient, then chronologically (in MS 3082/1-2). It mainly concerns his own course, books, and income; chairs of military surgery in London and Dublin; and, military medical matters, especially with reference to the Crimean War. Other material includes memorials, testimonials, and items relating to military surgery (MS 3082/3-10); Dr. Roger Cooter's 1995 transcripts (MS 3082/11); and, the original boxes (MS 3083).

Administrative / Biographical History

George Ballingall, who was Regius Professor of Military Surgery at the University of Edinburgh, was born on 2 May 1780 in Forglen, Banffshire, where his father was a minister. He attended four literary sessions at the University of St. Andrews before following a course of medical study at the University of Edinburgh between 1803 and 1806, and received his diploma from the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh, on 17 December 1805. Ballingall was then appointed as Assistant Surgeon to the 2nd Battalion 1st Royals. He served in India, witnessed the capture of Java in 1811, and was in occupied Paris in 1815. In November 1815 he was appointed Surgeon to the 33rd Regiment of Foot, retiring in 1818. He had also re-matriculated in 1816 to study Chemistry and Military Surgery, and formally graduated in 1819. His M.D. thesis  De Apoplexia Sanguinea was completed at the University that year. In 1823, Ballingall became Lecturer on Military Surgery at the University, and in 1825 he succeeded to the Chair of Military Surgery. During his period of tenure Ballingall fervently sought to impress upon the political authorities of the day the necessity of teaching Military Surgery as a separate discipline, and to establish similar chairs or lectureships in London and Dublin. He also took a keen interest in the running of the Army Medical Department, particularly during the disastrous years of the Crimean War. Most notable amongst his published works are  Practical observations on fever, dysentery, and liver complaints, as they occur amongst the European troops in India: to which is annexed, an essay on syphilis (1823),  The life of Dr. Barclay (circa 1827),  Outlines of military surgery, first published as  Outlines of the course of lectures on military surgery  (1833), and  Observations on the site and construction of hospitals  (1851). Ballingall was knighted on the occasion of the accession of King William IV. He died at Blairgowrie on 4 December 1855.

Conditions Governing Access

Contact the repository for details

Acquisition Information

Transferred in February 1996 from the Edinburgh University Archive to Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives.

Other Finding Aids

Handlist, H53; Another important finding aid is the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives. Additions to the typed slips in sheaf binders were made until 1987.

Related Material

The Index to Manuscripts shows a University prize essay by Ballingall, a speech delivered by Ballingall, lists of student numbers, notes of lectures on military surgery, and letters of and to Ballingall.