Medical Officers of the Malta Garrison De Chaumont Francis Stephen Bennet Francois
363 Surgeon Major Francis Stephen Bennet Francois de Chaumont
MD (Ed 1853) Lic (1853) FRCS (Ed 1864) FRS (1879) 7 Apr 1833 [Edinburgh] – 18 Apr 1888 [Woolston Southampton]
Surgeon Major Francis Stephen Bennet Francois de Chaumont was born in Edinburgh of a French father and a Scottish mother. He was educated in the High School and University of that city. After passing through the arts and medical classes with distinction, he obtained his degree with honours, and entered the medical service of the army.1
In 1885, Surgeon Major de Chaumont served in the Crimean Campaign with the Rifle Brigade. He was in the siege and fall of Sebastopol and received the medal with clasp and the Turkish Medal.
On the removal of the Army Medical School from Chatham to Netley, Surgeon Major de Chaumont was appointed Assistant Professor of Military Hygiene, under Dr Edmund Alexander Parkes. In this position he not only assisted his principal in the laborious duty of teaching in the laboratory of the School, but did an immense amount of extra work for Government in the way of analysis, reporting on hospitals and barracks, contributing to the departmental Blue Book, and papers to scientific journals on health issues. He also instructed young officers of the Royal Engineers at the School of Military Engineering at Chatham on military hygiene, so far as concerned the health arrangements and construction of military buildings. His lectures were highly valued, not only by the young officers, but also by their seniors.1
On the death of Professor Parkes, Surgeon Major de Chaumont was, with the concurrence of the other professors and the whole service, appointed his successor. The Professor felt aggrieved with the terms of his appointment. He felt that the Government had driven a hard bargain with him, ignoring his previous military service, exacting much and giving little. What Surgeon Major de Chaumont deemed unjust treatment was keenly felt by him to the last, and must be regarded as one more example of the little appreciation by the Government of the day, of scientific merit, particularly in the ranks of the medical departments of the public service.1
Surgeon Major de Chaumont was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society on 12 June 1879. He was facile princeps in his own department, and was acknowledged to be so throughout Europe, and in the United States of America more particularly. His scientific knowledge, far from being confined to his own branch, was large and accurate; he delighted in mathematical science, in which he excelled. He was an accomplished linguist, familiar with all the modern languages, and a master of philology. He delighted in music, and had a Macaulay-like tenacity of memory; whatever he read he remembered, and stored in his mind with such order and method that it was available with unfailing readiness at a moment's notice.1
Among his publications was a Report on the hygienic exhibition at Berlin in 1883, AMD Report for 1882 vol XXIV. He also edited more than one edition of Parkes Manual of Practical Hygiene.
Service Record — Francis Stephen Bennet Francois de Chaumont
8 Sep 1863Exchanged with Staff Assistant Surgeon Julius Wiles who became Assistant Surgeon Rifle Brigade vice De Chaumont.
20 June 1865 Promoted Staff Surgeon.
28 Apr 1874 Surgeon Major.
1866 – 1875 Appointed Assistant Professor of Military Hygiene under Professor Edmund Alexander Parkes.
1875 – 1876 Served at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley as Conjoint and Acting Professor of Hygiene.
11 Oct 1876 Retired to half-pay. Complained that he had been forced by the War Office to retire as a Surgeon–Major to his detriment, when he became Professor.
1876 – 1881 Appointed Professor of Military Hygiene at the Army Medical School Netley on the death of Professor Edmund Alexander Parkes.
18 Apr 1888 Died, aged 55 years, from cardiac failure, the outcome of diabetes with albuminuria. He was buried in the cemetery of St Mary's Extra, Sholing, near his own residence at Woolston, Southampton. Despite torrential rain and a bitter north-east wind, his funeral was attended by the whole staff at Netley Hospital, the professors and the surgeons on probation in the Army Medical School and many members of the Southampton Literary and Philosophical Society of which he was President, the Council of the Hartley Society and representatives from other public instituions in Southampton.
A brass memorial was placed at the Royal Victoria Hospital Netley by the past and present members of the teaching staff of the Army Medical School. Professor De Chaumont possessed vast intellectual powers and capacity for work, he was no less distinguished as an expert and teacher of hygiene and its applications then for the remarkable range of his knowledge in the whole circle of the liberal arts and sciences.
The eight orphans of Surgeon Major De Chaumont received financial contributions from the Army Medical Officers Benevolent Fund.
Drew R., 1968. Entry No: 5246. Medical Officers in the British Army 1660 – 1960. Volume I: 1660 – 1898. London: Wellcome Historical Medical Library.
RAMC/PE/3/27/Drew. Manuscript for Drew's Roll.
Succession Books Vol VII. Returns of service of medical officers in the Regular Army.
1Obituary. Br Med J (1888), 1: 940 (Published 28 April 1888).