856 Surgeon General Thomas Maunsell
CB (Mil 1896) LRCSI (1859) LKQCPI (1860) LLD
1 July 1839 [Dublin] – 29 Dec 1937 [Uxbridge]
Surgeon General Thomas Maunsell was the son of John Maunsell Esq and the seventh of a large family of nine children from Dingle, County Kerry. He lived through the reigns of five sovereigns, and the pontificates of six Popes. Moreover, he was in the first batch of undergraduates at Cardinal Newman's Catholic University of Ireland from whence he entered the British Army on 1 October 1860. He took the the LRCSI in 1859 and the LRCPI in 1860. His university conferred on him the LLD.
He served with the Burmese expedition in 1886–1887 for which he was mentioned in despatches and received the frontier medal with clasp. In 1895, he was with the Chitral Relief Force on the North West Frontier of India under Sir Robert Low as Principal Medical Officer. He was again mentioned in despatches (London Gazette of 15 November 1895), appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath and received the medal with clasp.
In 1911, Surgeon General Thomas Maunsell founded the Guild of Catholic Doctors of St Luke, St Cosmas and St Damian. He was an Honorary Associate of the Order of St John of Jerusalem in England.
1 Oct 1860 Appointed Staff Assistant Surgeon.
24 July 1861 Reduced to half-pay. In 1861 there was a reduction in the establishment of army medical officers and a number of assistant surgeons were temporarily placed on half-pay.
14 Jan 1862 Restored to full-pay. On duty in Dublin.
19 Aug 1862 Assistant Surgeon 48th (Northamptonshire) Regiment of Foot.
9 June 1865 Appointed Staff Assistant Surgeon from 48th Foot vice Staff Assistant Surgeon Edward O'Sullivan, appointed to 96th Foot.
1865 Served in Dublin.
1866–1868 On duty in Portsmouth.
27 June 1868 Assistant Surgeon Royal Artillery. Served with C Royal Horse Artillery (1868), Aldershot; F Royal Horse Artillery (1869–1870) Umballa; C Royal Horse Artillery (1871–1872) Woolwich.
Sep 1872 Married Mary Eleanor (died 1927), daughter of Captain Frederick William Lane 67th Regiment, and granddaughter of Major Bowyer Lane RA of Greenhill, Staffordshire.
1 Mar 1873 Promoted Surgeon.
Apr 1873 Moved from D Royal Horse Artillery to the Medical Staff Exeter.
1873–1878 On duty at Woolwich Arsenal.
17 June 1875 Promoted Surgeon Major.
Nov 1878 Moved to Nova Scotia.
1879–1881 On duty in Nova Scotia.
Nov 1885 Moved from Dover to Bengal.
June 1886 Passed the examination for the lower standard in Hindustani.
16 Oct 1886 At Bengal was promoted Brigade Surgeon vice Brigade Surgeon Robert Lewer who became Deputy Surgeon General.
1886–1887 Served with the Upper Burma Expeditionary Force. Was Senior Medical Officer at the European Base Hospital, Rangoon. In November 1885 the British occupied Mandalay, imprisoned King Thebaw, and on 1 January 1886 annexed Upper Burma; further expeditions became necessary to quell an insurgency.
July 1890 Posted to the administrative medical charge of the Allahabad District, Bengal Establishment.
Mar 1891 Moved from Bengal to Aldershot.
Apr 1892 Moved from Aldershot to Dover.
10 Mar 1892 Promoted Surgeon Colonel.
Feb 1893 Moved from Dover to Bengal. Appointed to the administrative medical staff of the Bengal Command. Served as Principal Medical Officer, Rawalpindi District, vice Surgeon Colonel Charles Henry Young Godwin, who died at Rawalpindi on 24 December 1892.
May 1895 Appointed Administrative Medical Officer in the Bombay Command, in succession to Surgeon Colonel Gore, appointed Principal Medical Officer HM Forces in India, who moved posted to Mhow District.
May 1895 Appointed Principal Medical Officer to the Chitral Relief Force under Sir Robert Low vice Surgeon Colonel William Thomas Martin who fell ill. In his absence as Principal Medical Officer of the Rawalpindi District, Brigade Surgeon Charles Frederick Pollock, in medical charge of the Station Hospital, Rawalpindi officiated as PMO.
Sir George White, the Commander-in-Chief in India, wrote as follows on the despatches respecting the operations of the Chitral Relief Force:
To the careful medical arrangements and to increased sanitary precautions may be ascribed the comparative immunity from disease and the general good health that the troops have enjoyed under very trying conditions. These results could not have been attained without the great forethought and administrative experience of the late Principal Medical Officer HM Forces in India, Surgeon Major General Bradshaw, and of the officer now filling that appointment, Surgeon Major General Albert Augustus Gore; and their efforts have been well seconded by Surgeon Colonel T Maunsell, Principal Medical Officer with the force, and the medical officers under his orders. Respecting the PMO, Sir Robert Low commanding the Chitral Relief Force, said; Surgeon Colonel T Maunsell, Army Medical Staff, Principal Medical Officer with the force, is an officer of ability and experience, and his management of the medical and sanitary arrangements connected with the force have been most successful.
24 Nov 1895 Surgeon Colonel T Maunsell was directed to officiate as Principal Medical Officer, Bengal Command vice Surgeon Major General Thomas Walsh, who had been granted leave. Surgeon Colonel C. MacD. Cuffe Principal Medical Officer of the Allahabad and Nerbudda Districts succeeded Surgeon Colonel T. Maunsell as Principal Medical Officer of the Rawalpindi District.
24 Nov 1895 Promoted Surgeon Major General on the retirement of Surgeon Major General James Inkson. He was succeeded by Brigade Surgeon Lieutenant Colonel Thomas O'Farrell, promoted Surgeon Colonel.
28 Dec 1895 Surgeon Colonel Richard Patrick Ferguson was directed to officiate as Principal Medical Officer Bengal Command, vice T Maunsell, appointed Principal Medical Officer at Malta. Embarked at Bengal for Malta.
11 Jan 1896 Arrived from Bengal.
21 Jan 1896 Appointed CB (Mil) in recognition of his services with the Chitral Relief Force.
23 Aug 1896 To England on leave.
26 Oct 1896 Returned from leave.
Jan 1897 PMO Malta. Resident at Capua Palace Sliema.
23 Jan 1897 The Daily Malta Chronicle of 23 April 1897 published a report from the medical to the military authorities on the shocking insanitary condition of the great naval base in the Mediterranean. The sanitary condition
of the civil population of Malta was alleged to be so bad and so dangerous to the public health, to the soldiers and sailors and to Europe at large, as to call for the intervention of Parliament. The letters were addressed to the Chief Staff Officer, Malta, but the Daily Malta Chronicle commented that
in the present obdurate attitude of the War Office to things medical, nothing is likely to be done until public pressure is brought to bear.
On 23 January 1897, the Principal Medical Officer, Surgeon Major General T Maunsell, had brought to the notice of the Commander-in-Chief the serious sanitary conditions caused by overcrowding in populous centres of the island, which was emphasised by the prevailing fear of pestilence and vexatious quarantine regulations hampering the movement of troops. He wrote:
In Valletta the population reached the enormous figure in density of 75,000 to the square mile; an epidemic pestilence once set up in such a mass could not be coped with; this is yearly aggravated by unrestricted building operations and the want of compulsory segregation; the rate of infantile mortality (a crucial test of sanitary conditions) is so enormous as to be almost criminal; it reached in 1895, 267 per 1,000, or nearly three times what it might be under more favourable conditions. It is not contended that the remedy for this grave and menacing state of things is easily to be found, but nevertheless it must be sought for.
The remedies recommended are tersely stated: (a) General conservancy to be dealt with in a liberal, rigorous, and comprehensive spirit; (b) Strict supervision of markets, abattoirs, dairies, lodging houses, grog shops; (c) General sewage works now on hand to be pushed on, and all house connections there with examined and rectified if necessary; (d) Vigilance over the water supply; (e) Provision made for segregation of the infected should epidemic disease break out. Finally, it is pointed out, until these sanitary measures are taken in hand and enforced, the community has nothing between it and pestilence but an obsolete system of quarantine. Particularly, it is urged, these present insanitary conditions are full of danger in the risk of plague infection.1
On 30 January, Dr G Caruana Scicluna, the Civil Sanitary Inspector, had also expressed his strong concerns to the Chief Government Medical Officer calling his attention to the insanitary condition of the Maltese villages, summed up in being highly overcrowded, badly ventilated and irregularly or not at all drained. He drew attention to the cesspit abominations, horrible dung houses, human and animal, a filthy trade in ordure, and the premium placed on dirt by the system of house letting.
The Daily Malta Chronicle pointed out that:
Whatever may be the theoretical Government of the island of Malta, half military, half civil, the real power, and therefore the real responsibility for its sanitary and economic condition rests with the former; and to the military authorities should questions be addressed.
31 July 1897 To Crete on an inspection.
9 Aug 1897 Returned from Crete.
1898 Principal Medical Officer Malta Garrison.
President of the Malta and Mediterranean Branch of the British Medical Association.
Appointed one of the eight visitors for Corradino Prison.
23 May 1898 Following the death of Mr Ernest Abraham Hart the general meeting of the Malta and Mediterranean Branch of the British Medical Association, held at the Station Hospital, Valletta, carried unanimously the following resolution, proposed by the President Surgeon Major General T Maunsell CB and seconded by the Honorary Secretary Surgeon Lieutenant Colonel Lorenzo Manché RMA:
That the members of the Malta and Mediterranean Branch take this first opportunity since the lamentable death of the late able and accomplished editor of the Journal, to express their warm appreciation of the very valuable services he rendered to the Association and to the medical profession in general; and that they desire to convey their sympathy to Mrs Hart in her bereavement.
30 June 1899 Left Malta.
1 July 1899 Retired to half-pay having completed 20 years' full-pay service.
1900 Appointed an Honorary Associate of the Order of St John of Jerusalem.
19 June 1905 Attended the annual dinner of the Royal Army Medical Corps at the Whitehall Rooms, Hotel Metropole.
1906 In the 1906 birthday awards was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath Military Division
8 Feb 1908 Bertram Sydney Osmund Maunsell eldest son of Surgeon General Thomas Maunsell married Clare Gabrielle, daughter of Captain William Henry O'Shea 18th Hussars at the Church of the Servite Fathers Brompton SW.
21 Oct 1911 Founder member of the Guild of Catholic Doctors of Saint Luke and Saints Cosmas and Damian.
8 Feb 1915 Death of Captain Wilfrid Innocent Maunsell, Adjutant Scottish Rifles, at Neuve Chapelle, son of Surgeon General T Maunsell and Eleanor Maunsell of 29 Broughton Road Thornton Hill Surrey.
25 Apr 1915 Death of Captain Thomas Bowyer Lane Maunsell 1st/Lancashire Fusiliers, second son of Surgeon General T Maunsell and Eleanor Maunsell, killed in action in the Dardanelles.
29 Dec 1937 Surgeon General Thomas Maunsell died at the Convent of the Blue Nuns at Hillingdon Court, Uxbridge, aged 98 years.
- Drew R., 1968. Entry No: 5956. Medical Officers in the British Army 1660 – 1960. Volume 1: 1660 – 1898. London: Wellcome Historical Medical Library.
- RAMC/PE/3/27/Drew. Manuscript for Drew's Roll.
- TNA:WO 25/3901, Records of Service - Officers of the Medical Department (1790–1847).
- Succession Book Vol 12. Returns of service of medical officers in the Regular Army.
- Hart H G., The New Annual Army List for 1899 corrected to 31 December 1898. London 1899.
- Naval and Military Medical Services Br Med J (1886), 1003 (Published 20 November 1886).
- 1Maunsell T., Sanitary condition of Malta Br Med J (1897); 1: 1243 (Published 15 May 1897).
- General Report of the medical history of the Chitral Relief Force. pp 351-379 AMD Report of the health of the army for 1896, (London 1897) vol XXXVIII.
- Deaths in the services, Br Med J (1938), 152 (Published 15 January 1938).