John Robert Hume

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Portrait tentatively identified as John Robert Hume

John Robert Hume (c.1781–1857) was a Scottish surgeon and physician. He is cited as an example of a 19th-century medical career that arrived at a high position in the profession, without early qualifications.[1]

Early life and military service[edit]

Born in Renfrewshire in 1781 or 1782, he was the son of Joseph Hume, a medical practitioner at Hamilton. He studied medicine at Glasgow in 1795, 1798, and at Edinburgh in 1796–7. He entered the medical service of the army as a hospital mate, was in Holland in 1799, and joined the 92nd Regiment of Foot as assistant surgeon in 1800. He was in Egypt in 1801.[2][3][4] In that campaign he served as surgeon on HMS Ceres.[5] Some of his journals for his visit to Cyprus (including Larnaka and Limassol) were printed.[6]

Hume served in the Walcheren Expedition in 1809, and the Peninsula War. During that period he was surgeon to Arthur Wellesley.[2][3][7]

Hume took part in the 1815 Waterloo campaign, on the medical stall as a deputy inspector.[8] He attended the Duchess of Richmond's ball on 15 June, the eve of the Battle of Quatre Bras.[9] On 18 June, the day of the Battle of Waterloo, he amputated the legs of Sir Alexander Gordon, who died,[10] and of Henry William Paget, 2nd Earl of Uxbridge, out of a number of operations.[11] The following day he awoke the Duke with the casualty list.[12] He also attended the dying William Howe De Lancey.[13]

The Field of Battersea, caricature by William Heath of the 1829 duel between Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (as lobster) and George Finch-Hatton, 10th Earl of Winchilsea; John Robert Hume, as the Duke's friend and physician, sits and spectates.

Later life[edit]

The University of St Andrews conferred on Hume the degree of M.D. on 12 January 1816, and on 22 December 1819 he was admitted a licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians.[2] On his own account, he had previously been in France with the Duke of Wellington.[14] From half-pay, he was made an Inspector of Hospitals in 1820.[15]

Settling in London, Hume became personal physician to the Duke.[2] His patients included Marianne Patterson in 1824, shortly to marry the Duke's brother Richard.[16] He travelled with the Duke to St Petersburg in 1826,[17] and was present at the Duke's duel with the Earl of Winchelsea, fought in 1829 as part of the Catholic Emancipation controversy.[18][19] He was made a commissioner for the licensing of Middlesex asylums in 1828.[20]

Hume was created D.C.L. at Oxford on 13 June 1834, the Duke being then chancellor of the university. He was admitted a fellow of the College of Physicians on 9 July 1836, and on the following 1 September was appointed one of the metropolitan commissioners in lunacy.[2] Following the resignation of William Frederick Chambers, Hume at this period also became Examining Physician to the East India Company.[21] He was sufficiently well known to feature in the early writings of the Brontë family.[22]

Hume was attacked and defended in The Lancet of the later 1840s, with other commissioners of lunacy, accused of being bedridden with gout, and a "sinecurist"; though he was active in inspections.[23][24] He subsequently became inspector general of hospitals, and was made C.B. 16 August 1850. He died at his house in Curzon Street, Mayfair, London, on 1 March 1857, aged 75.[2]


Hume married Elizabeth, daughter of David Limond, at Ayr on 1 July 1804.[25] Their daughter Elizabeth married Archibald Campbell of Glendaruel.[26]


  1. ^ John Shepherd (1 January 1991). The Crimean Doctors: A History of the British Medical Services in the Crimean War. Liverpool University Press. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-85323-107-3.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Lee, Sidney, ed. (1891). "Hume, John Robert" . Dictionary of National Biography. 28. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  3. ^ a b "Biographies of Medical Lunacy Commissioners1828-1912". Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  4. ^ ", Hume John Robert". Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  5. ^ Edward Daniel Clarke (1817). Travels in Various Countries of Europe, Asia and Africa: Greece, Egypt, and the Holy Land. T. Cadell and W. Davies. p. 419.
  6. ^ Cobham, Claude Delaval (1908). "Excerpta cypria". Internet Archive. pp. 339–42. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  7. ^ "Roll of Commisssioned Officers in the Medical Service of the British Army, Who Served on Full Pay Within the Period Between the Accession of George II and the Formation of the Royal Army Medical Corps, 20 June 1727 to 23 June 1898, With an Introduction Showing the Historical Evolution of the Corps, Page 208". Archived from the original on 27 April 2015. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  8. ^ William Siborne (1848). The Waterloo Campaign, 1815. E. Arber. p. 819.
  9. ^ John Stewart (14 March 2008). Byron and the Websters: The Letters and Entangled Lives of the Poet, Sir James Webster and Lady Frances Webster. McFarland. p. 94. ISBN 978-0-7864-8437-9.
  10. ^ Colin Brown (15 May 2015). The Scum of the Earth: What Happened to the Real British Heroes of Waterloo?. History Press Limited. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-7509-6426-5.
  11. ^ Paul O'Keeffe (9 October 2014). Waterloo: The Aftermath. Random House. p. 70. ISBN 978-1-4464-6633-9.
  12. ^ Philip J. Haythornthwaite (2007). Wellington: The Iron Duke. Potomac Books, Inc. p. 81. ISBN 978-1-57488-892-8.
  13. ^ Peter Stanley (1 January 2003). For Fear of Pain, British Surgery, 1790–1850. Rodopi. p. 268. ISBN 90-420-1034-7.
  14. ^ Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons (1834). Parliamentary Papers, House of Commons and Command. H.M. Stationery Office. p. 191.
  15. ^ Edinburgh Gazette (PDF)
  16. ^ Jehanne Wake (28 February 2012). Sisters of Fortune: America's Caton Sisters at Home and Abroad. Simon and Schuster. p. 187. ISBN 978-1-4516-0763-5.
  17. ^ Arthur Aspinall (1938). The Letters of King George IV. CUP Archive. pp. 140–1. GGKEY:9AN5KT99PTA.
  18. ^ F. M. L. Thompson (1 July 1990). University of London and the World of Learning, 1836–1986. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 149. ISBN 978-0-8264-3827-0.
  19. ^ Wolffe, John. "Hatton, George William Finch-". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/9447. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  20. ^ Bulletins and Other State Intelligence. Compiled and arranged from the official documents published in the London gazette. 1828. p. 150.
  21. ^ Crawford, Dirom Grey (1914). "A History of the Indian Medical Service, 1600–1913 [electronic resource]". Internet Archive. p. 164. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  22. ^ Heather Glen (5 December 2002). The Cambridge Companion to the Brontës. Cambridge University Press. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-521-77971-5.
  23. ^ The Lancet. J. Onwhyn. 1849. p. 75.
  24. ^ Thomas Wakley, ed. (1846). The Lancet. p. 294.
  25. ^ The Scots Magazine, and Edinburgh Literary Miscellany. 1804. pp. 564–5.
  26. ^ "Glorious Glendaruel, The Friends of Kilmodan and Colintraive". Retrieved 20 April 2015.

External links[edit]


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainLee, Sidney, ed. (1891). "Hume, John Robert". Dictionary of National Biography. 28. London: Smith, Elder & Co.