Bram Stoker Estate



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Sir William Thomson, M.D.

B. 29 June 1843 at Downpatrick, Ireland

D. 13 November 1909 at Dublin, Ireland

Honorary Surgeon to King Edward VII in Ireland,

President of Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland,

Chief Surgeon in charge of Lord Iveah’s Hospital

in S. Africa, knighted in 1897, much decorated for

his service with Irish medals, and honored for his

philanthropic endeavors.

The British Medical Journal

November 20, 1909

Page updated 30 May 2012


The important C.B. group of four medals awarded to Sir William Thomson.

The Most Honourable Order of The Bath, C.B. (Civil) Companion’s breast badge, 18ct. gold, hallmarks for London 1877, with swivel ring and straight bar suspension and gold buckle on ribbon; Jubilee 1897, silver (From the Queen to Sir Wm. Thomson, Prest. R.C.S.I. 1897);

Coronation 1902, silver;

Queen’s South Africa 1899-1902, 3 clasps, Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Johannesburg

(Sir W. Thomson, C.B.)

William Thomson was born in Downpatrick on 29 June 1843.

In 1867 he graduated in Arts at the Queen’s University, having previously obtained Scholarship and numerous other valuable prizes. In 1872 he obtained the degrees of M.D. and M.Ch. from the Queen’s University. Shortly afterwards he was appointed House Surgeon to the Richmond Hospital, and Demonstrator of Anatomy in the Carmichael School of Medicine. In the following year he was promoted to the position of Lecturer on Anatomy in this School, and a year afterwards he became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. In 1873 he was elected an Examiner in Anatomy and Surgery. In 1882 the Queen’s University conferred the Degree of M.A. on him, and in 1886 he was elected a Representative of Convocation in the Senate of the Royal University. He filled the post of President of the R.C.S.I. for the years 1896-98, and was Knighted in 1897. He was Surgeon-in-Ordinary to Queen Victoria and also to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. As head of the Ambulance Corps, which was sent to South Africa, through the munificence of Viscount Iveagh, Sir William Thomson won further honours. He was awarded a medal and clasps for his services, received mention in several despatches, and was created a Companion of the Bath in 1900.

In all philanthropic schemes he took an active part, and he was treasurer of the

Royal Medical Benevolent Fund in Ireland.

Sir William Thomson died in Dublin on 13 November 1910.

The Irish Hospital was offered to the Central Committee of the British Red Cross, in December 1899, by Lord Iveagh, who generously offered to pay for equipping the hospital for service in South Africa. He proposed that ‘it should be as far as possible a mobile unit and that the management should be left to whatever civilian medical gentleman he should select. The hospital was formally established on 28 December 1899, and the first personnel and equipment sailed for the Cape in the following February. On arrival at Cape Town the staff went into camp at Green Point and then moved by rail to Naauwport, arriving there on 10 March. The following day two surgeons, two dressers and eighteen orderlies, with stores, were sent by rail to De Aar. The remainder of the unit, being under orders to move to Bloemfontein, were unable to operate at Naauwport. The final move was made between 10th and 12th April and the De Aar detachment joined the main body on

21 April at Bloemfontein.

On 10 May 1900 a section under Sir William Thomson marched out to join Lord Roberts’ force at Kroonstadt, were attached to the 11th Division on the advance which commenced on 22 May, and reached Pretoria on 6 June. On 14 June the Irish Hospital commenced operations in the Palace of Justice and by 19 June had had 93 admissions. The original capacity of 100 beds was soon extended to 250 beds and by 10 July there were 500 beds, the staff being supplemented by military personnel. No patients were admitted after 30 September 1900 and the unit left South Africa on 15 October, handing over its last 180 patients to the Royal Army Medical Corps.

The medal roll for the Irish Hospital shows a total of 67 members entitled to the medal with various clasps. Also included in the roll are three members of the R.A.M.C.

and 25 Nursing Sisters of the Army Nursing Service Reserve.


These notes excerpted from the Dix Noonan Webb Auction Archive, Mayfair, London