Macdonald, John Denis (DNB12)

MACDONALD, Sir JOHN DENIS (1826–1908), inspector-general of hospitals and fleets, born at Cork on 26 Oct. 1826, was youngest son of James Macdonald, artist, by his wife Catherine, daughter of Denis McCarthy of Kilcoleman, co. Cork. His father was the representative of the Castleton branch of the Macdonald family, and claimant of the Annandale peerage through his great-grandfather, the Hon. John Johnston of Stapleton. He was privately educated, and after attending the Cork school of medicine went to King's College medical school to finish his course. Having qualified, he entered the navy as assistant surgeon in 1849 and was appointed to the Royal Hospital, Plymouth. In 1852 he was appointed to the Herald, and continued in her on surveying service in the South Pacific until 1859. In the same year he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society for his unremitting microscopic studies with the aid of the sounding-lead, dredge, and towing-net, and was promoted to surgeon. In 1862 he was awarded the Makdougall-Brisbane medal by the Royal Society of Edinburgh for his deep-sea investigations. In 1864 he was appointed to Haslar Hospital, and in June 1870 as staff surgeon to the Lord Warden, flagship in the Mediterranean. In 1871 he was awarded the Gilbert Blane medal. In March 1872 he was appointed to the flagship at Portsmouth for service as professor of naval hygiene at Netley; this post he continued to hold after his promotion to deputy inspector-general in Feb. 1875. In July 1880 he was promoted inspector-general, and in that rank was in charge of the Royal Naval Hospital at Plymouth from 1883 to 1886. He retired on 24 May 1886. He was made K.C.B. in 1902. His chief publications were 'The Analogy of Sound and Colour' (1869); 'Outlines of Naval Hygiene' (1881); and a 'Guide to the Microscopical Examination of Drinking Water' (1883). He died at Southall on 7 Feb. 1908.

Macdonald was twice married: (1) in 1863 to Sarah Phoebe (d. 1875), daughter of Ely Walker of Stainland, Yorkshire, by whom he had two sons and two daughters; (2) to Erina, daughter of William Archer, prebendary of Limerick. She died in 1893, without issue.

[The Times, 11 Feb. 1908; information from the family.]

L. G. C. L.