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Martin, James Ranald (DNB00)


MARTIN, Sir JAMES RANALD (1793–1874), surgeon, son of the Rev. Donald Martin, was born in 1793 at Kilmuir, Isle of Skye, and received his school education at the Royal Academy of Inverness. In 1813 he became a student of St. George's Hospital, and in 1817, having become a member of the College of Surgeons in London, he obtained an appointment as surgeon on the Bengal medical establishment of the East India Company. He first spent three years in Orissa. The governor-general in 1821 made him surgeon to his body-guard, and he served in the first Burmese war. In 1826 he married a daughter of Colonel Patten, C.B., began civil practice in Calcutta, and soon attained success. He was made presidency surgeon in 1830, and also surgeon to the general hospital in Calcutta. lie published at Calcutta in 1837 ' Notes on the Medical Topography of Calcutta,' which gives a readable account of sanitary advantages and disadvantages from the time of the 'large shady tree under which Job Charnock sat in 1689, down to 1837, followed by a clear general account of the diseases of Bengal and their remedies. He left India after publishing two important memoirs 'On the Draining of the Salt-water Lake' and 'On the Reoccupation of Negrais Island,' and settled in practice in London, where he lived for some time in Grosvenor Street. The Royal College of Surgeons elected him a fellow in 1843, and the Royal Society in 1845. He became inspector-general of army hospitals and a member of the army sanitary commission. He wrote with Dr. James Johnson in 1841 a work 'On the Influence of Tropical Climates on European Constitutions.' On its reaching in 1856 a seventh edition Martin completely rewrote this voluminous book. It contains many interesting records of cases and shows extensive reading in the medical books of its own period. Another edition appeared in 1861. He published for private circulation in 1847 'A Brief Topographical and Historical Notice of Calcutta,' and also wrote the article on 'Hospitals' in Holmes's 'System of Surgery,' as well as some pamphlets on subjects connected with the medical service of the army. In 1860 he was made C.B. and was knighted in the same year. He was one of the first surgeons who used injections of iodine for the cure of hydrocele. He became somewhat deaf in old age, but discharged official duties till a fortnight before his death, which was due to pneumonia, and took place at his house in Upper Brook Street, London, 27 Nov. 1874.

[Works; Lnncer, 5 Dec. 1874; Medical Circular, London, 1854; Med. Times and Gazette, London, 1874, vol. ii.]

N. M.