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Significant Scots
Colin Chisholm

A MILITARY life, under ordinary circumstances, seldom affords a favourable scope for the development of medical genius. The previous education, and peculiar habits of his profession, in some measure, unfit the medical officer for the passive duties of a subordinate sphere, whilst the various restraints and checks to which he becomes subject by the ungenial nature and undefined liabilities of military control, are so many discouragements to the acquirement of that elasticity and vigour of mind so essential to the improvement of the mental faculties. Notwithstanding these serious difficulties, added to those more immediately arising, in former days, from an imperfect organization of the medical department itself, and its undue estimation and respectibility in the service in regard to rank and emolument, both the army and navy have given birth to many whose genius, surmounting the ordinary disadvantages of their station, has raised them to the first rank in medicine and surgery: not to mention several living instances of men whose knowledge and experience render them ornaments to medical science.

!n Dr. Colin Chisholm, the subject of the following biographical sketch, was also one of those who commenced his career in the service of his country. He was a native of Invernesshire, in the northwest part of Scotland, where he was born in the year 1755.

He received his classical education at Inverness, and at Aberdeen, and studied medicine and surgery at Edinburgh. At an early age he entered the army, having been appointed surgeon to a corps of Highlanders, in the year 1775. This corps, of which the late Dr. Robert Jackson, the eminent writer on army diseases, was the then assistant surgeon, became afterwards the second battalion of the seventy-first, (Highland) regiment, and, together with the forty-second regiment, being destined for actual service in North America, sailed from Greenock for that country, in April, 1776; the sick of both corps being placed under Dr. Chisholm’s superintendence during the passage. He continued to serve with the seventy-first regiment, in different parts of America, during the whole of the revolutionary contest. When peace was concluded, in 1783, he was placed on half-pay, and settled as a physician at St Georges, the capital of Grenada, in the West Indies. A few years after he had established himself here, and principally, it is supposed, through the interest of his friend the late Dr. John Rollo, he was appointed his successor as surgeon to the ordnance stationed in that island. In the summer of 1794, he returned to Britain, the first time since his settlement in I the colony, and, in the course of that year, married Miss Eliza Cooper, an amiable young lady of Inverness. In the autumn of 1795, he had I conferred upon him the rank of surgeon-general to the ordnance employed upon the expedition under the command of that lamented and gallant officer, the late General Sir Ralph Abercromby, which sailed from Portsmouth for the West Indies, on the 15th November of that year; but which, from heavy storms, and consequent disasters, was unable to reach its destination till the spring of 1796, and then only with the loss of several transports, shipwrecked or driven back by the great inclemency of the weather, which lasted for many successive weeks. In the year 1797 he received the appointment of inspector-general of ordnance hospitals in the Windward Islands. In this capacity, it became his duty to visit in person and regulate all the artillery hospitals in the different islands; a tour which afforded him abundant and profitable opportunities for instituting medical and statistical observation, and inquiries in that country, on a scale, and to an extent, seldom enjoyed by a single individual.

When the intended object of this appointment appeared to have been fully accomplished, the board of ordnance were highly sensible of his merits, and as a flattering testimony of their full approbation of his services, permitted him, at his own request, to retire from the department, granting him what was at that time deemed a handsome allowance, namely, ten shillings per diem for life.

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