John Liddell (doctor)

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John Liddell by Camille Silvy, April 1861
Gravestone of Sir John Liddell in East Greenwich Pleasaunce, London

Sir John Liddell, KCB, FRS (1794 – 28 May 1868) was a Scottish medical doctor who served as Director-General of the Medical Department of the Royal Navy (30 April 1855 – 21 January 1864),[1] and senior medical officer of the Royal Hospital at Greenwich.[2]

Born in Dunblane in 1794,[3] Liddell was educated at the University of Edinburgh before joining the Royal Navy where he saw service at the Battle of Navarino (1827). During a period as director of Malta's Bighi Naval Hospital (1827–1844), he served on HMS Barham during Sir Walter Scott's 1831 voyage to Naples.[4] He was appointed inspector of fleets and hospitals in 1844.[5]

He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society on 18 June 1846,[6] knighted in 1848,[7] appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1850[8] and promoted to Knight Commander on 9 February 1864.[9]

Succeeding Sir William Burnett, his time as Director-General coincided with the Crimean War, which brought him into contact with Florence Nightingale with whom he was subsequently in occasional contact regarding hospital design; at his request, Nightingale inspected Haslar Hospital in January 1857, and he later accompanied her on a visit to Chatham hospital.[10]

Liddell died at his London home at 72 Chester Square,[11] and was buried on 2 June 1868 in the Greenwich Hospital's cemetery[2] (today East Greenwich Pleasaunce).


  1. ^ The organisation of the Medical Department of the Royal Navy, in William Loney RN - Victorian naval surgeon (accessed: 19 June 2012)
  2. ^ a b "Obituary: Sir John Liddell, KCB, MD". British Medical Journal. 1 (338): 574. 6 June 1868. doi:10.1136/bmj.1.388.574-a. PMC 2310099Freely accessible. 
  3. ^ Archbold, W. A. J.; Herrick, Claire E. J. (September 2010). "Liddell, Sir John (1794–1868)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/16642. Retrieved 16 December 2012.  (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  4. ^ Sultana, Donald (1972) The Journey of Sir Walter Scott from Abbotsford to Malta Melita Historica. [Malta Historical Society]. 6(1972)1(1-21)
  5. ^ Sir John Liddell.
  6. ^ "List of Fellows of the Royal Society 1660–2007" (PDF). Royal Society. July 2007. Retrieved 16 December 2012. 
  7. ^ "No. 20858". The London Gazette. 19 May 1848. p. 1941. 
  8. ^ "No. 21127". The London Gazette. 16 August 1850. pp. 2242–2243. 
  9. ^ "No. 22817". The London Gazette. 9 February 1864. p. 611. 
  10. ^ Cook, Sir Edward (1871), The Life of Florence Nightingale, (London, MacMillan) pp. 348-9.
  11. ^ Genealogy Data Page 19 (Notes Pages).