Sir James Arthur Hanbury

Hanbury, Sir James Arthur (1832–1908), military surgeon, was born on 13 January 1832 at Somerstoun House, parish of Laracor, near Trim, co. Meath, Ireland, one of the fourteen children of Samuel Hanbury, a large landowner, and his wife, Louisa, daughter of Charles Ingham, rector of Kilmessan and Kilcool, co. Meath.

Hanbury studied at Trinity College, Dublin, and graduated MB in 1853. In September of that year he entered the Army Medical Service as an assistant surgeon. A brother, William, also in the Army Medical Service, was with the 24th regiment when it was annihilated at Chilianwala in 1849, and assisted Florence Nightingale in establishing the hospital at Scutari. He was in charge of Netley Hospital until his death. Another brother, Fleet Surgeon Ingham Hanbury RN, distinguished himself at Tell al-Kebir, was mentioned in dispatches, and received the bronze decoration and CB.

Hanbury steadily rose through the military ranks. He was promoted surgeon on 20 February 1863; surgeon-major on 1 March 1873; brigade surgeon on 27 November 1879; deputy surgeon-general on 5 May 1881; surgeon major-general on 14 June 1887. He retired from the service on 13 January 1892. He was elected an honorary FRCS Ireland on 19 July 1883, and FRCS England on 14 April 1887 (his diploma of membership being dated 23 February 1859).

Hanbury was quartered for some years at Halifax, Nova Scotia, before being sent to China and then to India. He served with the Bazar valley expedition in the Anglo-Afghan War of 1878–80, and was present during the march from Kabul to the relief of Kandahar. He was under fire in the battle of 1 September in that campaign, and besides being mentioned in dispatches in 1881, he received the CB, and the medal with clasp and the bronze decoration. As principal medical officer under Lord Wolseley during the Egyptian campaign of 1882, he was present at the battle of Tell al-Kebir, where he was instrumental in causing wounds to be dressed for the first time on the battlefield. Twice mentioned in dispatches, he was appointed KCB, the medal with clasp, the second class of the Mejidiye, and the khedive's star, in 1882. He served as principal medical officer at the Horse Guards and at Gibraltar (1887–8), and was surgeon-general of the forces in Madras (1888–92). In 1905 he received the distinguished service reward.

In 1876 Hanbury married Hannah Emily, daughter of James Anderson of Coxlodge Hall, Northumberland, and widow of Colonel Carter. Tall, alert, and handsome, of great independence and energy, Hanbury was a popular master of hounds at Ootacamund, India. He died at his home, Frondjern, Manor Road, Bournemouth, on 2 June 1908, and was buried on 7 June in Bournemouth. His wife survived him.


Oxford DNB

D'A. Power, ‘Hanbury, Sir James Arthur (1832–1908)’, rev. Claire E. J. Herrick, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 28 May 2017]

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