Surgeon General Miah William Murphy entered the Army Medical Department as an Assistant Surgeon in July 1842. He served with the 80th Regiment in the Burmese War of 1852–1853, and was present at the taking of Prome. He was wounded while serving as Staff Surgeon to the Bengal Division with Sir J. Cheape's force at Donabew where there was an immense deal of sickness and a great deal of fighting. Sir John was gratified with the way in which Mr Murphy performed his duties and mentioned him in his despatch. For his services he received the medal with clasps for Pegu.
Murphy was also recommended for promotion but this did not materialize. Director General Army Medical Department Andrew Smith noted that he was quite aware of Mr Murphy's merits, but promotion would take place when it did
not cause an injustice to officers who were senior to him. On 3 March 1854, Surgeon John Robert Taylor was promoted Staff Surgeon First Class, creating a vacancy in the 80th which Murphy expected to fill. However, DG Smith gave the surgency of the 80th Regiment to Staff Assistant Surgeon William Nelson Irwin, who had been commissioned on 2 December 1842, and was thus junior to Murphy. Murphy complained to the Director General, who was unable to reverse his decision as the promotion of 3 March 1854 was consequent on the outbreak of war with Russia, and
as you were, until your arrival in this country, considered on the Indian establishment, and eligible for promotion in that command, you had no claim to advancement at home on the score of seniority until you landed.
that the promotion of which I complained, and by which I considered myself slighted, was that of one officer, six months my junior, who was put over me in the regiment in which I was serving, this being as far as I knew, a singular instance of such a promotion, namely an assistant surgeon, junior to one of the assistant surgeons of the regiment, being promoted to the surgency of that regiment in which the senior was serving. Further, the 80th Regiment being on its return from India was not likely to be sent immediately to the seat of war, and therefore the outbreak of war could not have necessitated such a step. If I was considered on the Indian establishment I should suppose that the regiment which I was serving in and accompanying would also be in the same roster, and when a vacancy occurred in it, that if not given to the senior assistant surgeon in India, I was entitled to it, being senior to all the assistant surgeons at home. The promotion of assistant surgeon Irwin into the 80th Regiment caused much surprise at the time and inferences unfavourable to me were made from it, which I submit is a hardship independently of the loss of the time and of having so may juniors passed over my head.1
DG Smith acknowledged that Murphy had not been promoted from an oversight which was rectified as soon as a vacancy arose.
After the 80th regiment had embarked I was required to provide for service in the Crimea, three staff surgeons of the first class. I ascertained that Mr Taylor was close to the shores of this country and as I had found him a very good officer during the Burmese campaign when I appointed him PMO, I selected him for one of those three staff surgeons. At that time in March 1854, I was over pressed with work, and the clerk in my office who makes out the list of the seniors who are entitled to promotion brought it to me, there being nine surgeons required exclusive of the three staff surgeons, and placed the list before me, having omitted in that list Mr Murphy's name. I had no time to scrutinise the list, as I should have done had I had the ordinary time as in peace. These men were gazetted. A few days afterwards I discovered that Mr Murphy, a man whom I would never had thought of passing over, had accidentally been passed over, from not having been introduced into that list. I immediately ordered that he should be the first man to be recommended for promotion, and about a month afterwards an occasion arose, and Mr Murphy's name was promoted; so that all that can be said is that it was a simple oversight during a period of unprecedented pressure.2
Surgeon General Miah William Murphy died at Mount Vernon Sunday's Well Road Co. Cork in August 1894, aged 80 years. He left a widow, Harriet Normand, third daughter of Mr Heary Normand Dywert. Harriet died on 22 January 1907 at Cork. Among Surgeon General Miah William Murphy's publications was
Detailed histories of two cases of solar apoplexy. AMD Report Vol I (1859).