Andrew Leith Adams was the second son of Dr Francis Adams of Banchory-Ternan, a well known classical scholar and translator. In 1848, Adams qualified MB from Marischal College University of Aberdeen and LRCS (Edin). He entered the Army Medical Department 0n 20 October 1848 as an assistant surgeon 82nd Foot in India, but soon transferred to the 22nd Regiment where he passed the greater part of his 26 years of army life.
Andrew Leith Adams achieved prominence in the scientific world for his geological and palaeontological work in Malta. He laid bare the early history of the Mediterranean basin as a vast continent on which elephants and hippopotami roamed, now submerged with the exception of the Maltese Islands. During his six years in Malta, he extended and developed the work commenced by Captain Spratt RN. His excavations, assisted by money from the British Association, led to the discovery of two more fossil elephants in addition to the pigmy elephant previously known, and also to the prior existence of a large tortoise, swan and rat. The results he embodied in successive reports to the British Association and in monographs
On the dentition and osteology of the Maltese Fossil Elephants (Transactions of the Zoological Society London Vol 9), for which work he was elevated to the Fellowship of the Royal Society. Adams also contributed medical reports on sanitary matters and on means of improving the general health of Malta. In 1878, Andrew Leith Adams became Professor of Natural History at Queen's College Cork.
Among his publications were:
- Notes on the habits of a few animals in various parts of Hindustan and the Western Himalayan Mountains. Edin New Phil. Journal; viii: 1858.
- Notes on the habits and haunts of some of the birds of India. Zool. Soc. Proc. pt xxvi: 1858.
- Remarks on the habits and haunts of some of the mammalia found in various parts of India and the Western Himalayan Mountains. Zool. Soc. Proc. pt xxvi: 1858.
- On the birds of Kashmir and Ladakh. Zool. Soc. Proc. pt xxvii: 1859.
- Rambles of a Naturalist in India and the Western Himalayan Mountains. Edin New Phil. Journal, xvi: 1862.
- Observations on the fossiliferous caves in Malta. Roy Dublin Soc Journal; iv: 1863.
- Notes of a Naturalist in the Nile Valley and Malta.
- Notes for invalids about to proceed up the Nile.
- Rambles of a naturalist in Eastern Canada.
- Notes on the mummified bodies of the Ibis and other birds found in Egypt. Edin New Phil Journal; xix: 1864.
- On the dentition and osteology of the Maltese fossil elephant, being a description of the remains discovered by the author in Malta between the years 1860 and 1866. Trans. Zool Soc Lond, 9: 1-124.
- On the Fossil Echinidae of Malta.
- On Fossil Chelonians from the fossiliferous Caves and Fissures of Malta.
- Contributions to Proceedings of the Geological Society.
- Elephantiasis of the lower extremities. Lancet; ii: 1858.
- Case of Ecchinococcus Altricipariens of the kidneys. AMD Report; v: 1863.
- On the physical requirements of the soldier.
- On ophthalmia as it appeared in 1st/22th Regiment from 1860 to 1870. AMD Report; xi: 1869.
- Report on the cholera epidemic of 1865 in the Maltese Islands. AMD Report; vi 1864.
Service Record — Andrew Leith Adams
20 Oct 1848 Appointed Acting Assistant Surgeon on the Medical Staff.
20 Oct 1848–17 May 1849 On duty in the United Kingdom.
1 Dec 1848 Promoted Assistant Surgeon 82nd Foot.
22 Dec 1848 Assistant Surgeon 64th Regiment of Foot.
18 May 1849–30 July 1855 On duty in the East Indies.
16 Nov 1849 Assistant Surgeon 22nd (The Cheshire) Regiment of Foot.
1854 Served in medical charge of the detachment 22nd Foot with the expeditionary force under Sir Sydney Cotton against the Mohmund tribes on the Peshawar frontier.
31 July 1855–12 Oct 1855 On duty in the United Kingdom.
25 Sept 1855 Promoted Staff Surgeon 2nd Class from 22nd Foot. Volunteered to serve in the hospital at Scutari. Served at Scutari from 13 October 1855 to 24 January 1856.
25 Jan 1856–21 June 1860 On duty in the United Kingdom.
22 Aug 1856 Became Surgeon 22nd Foot by exchange with Surgeon Maclise William 22nd Foot who was promoted Staff Surgeon 2nd Class.
26 Oct 1859 Married Bertha Jane nee Grundy (1837 – 1912) at Manchester. Mrs Leith Adams nursed sick soldiers in the cholera epidemic in Malta of 1865.
Malta 22 June 1860 Arrived from England. Described the high prevalence of ophthalmia in Malta.
As regards Malta, there are few military stations more infected by ophthalmia; it is always present among the lower classes, and seldom regiments pass their time in the islands without becoming more or less tainted; indeed there is no element hitherto ascribed either favourable towards its production, or propagation, that does not exist there to its fullest extent; so marked is this that a corps is considered fortunate indeed should it escape after three years' residence in their badly-constructed barracks.1
With the exception of the new military barracks at Bormla and St George's Bay, all the barracks in Malta were merely old storehouses and casemated buildings that belonged to the Order of St John of Jerusalem and had been transmuted into military quarters.
Malta 12 Jan 1861 His confidential report written by PMO Malta stated:
Intelligent, hospital latterly very clean, medical records correctly kept.
Malta 27 Sept 1862 Birth of a son Francis William Lauderdale Adams who was baptised at the Government Chapel Malta.
Malta 1863 On duty with his regiment.
Malta 1864 On duty with his regiment.
Malta 1865 On duty with his regiment during the outbreak of cholera in Malta.
Malta 22 Mar 1866 Left for New Brunswick. While in Malta, Adams was given a booklet written by Dr F. V. Inglott, Comptroller of the Charitable Institutions, entitled
The Mad House in Villa Franconi as found in 1859. Adams referred to this publication when he wrote a series of articles in one of the local papers on the state of the insane at Villa Franconi.
24 Mar 1866–21 May 1869 On duty in North America.
19 July 1867 Birth of a daughter, Harriet B.
20 Oct 1868 Promoted Surgeon-Major 22nd Foot by Warrant of 1 April 1867.
1869 Returned to England from New Brunswick with 22nd Foot.
29 May 1869–29 Aug 1871 On duty in the United Kingdom. In Guernsey on 29 August 1870.
29 Aug 1871 Staff Surgeon Major. Appointed to the Recruiting Staff London.
23 Jan 1875 Retired on half-pay with the honorary rank of Deputy Surgeon–General. On retiring from the service he became Professor of Zoology at the Royal College of Science Dublin. He held this professorship until he was appointed to the Chair of Natural History at Queen's College Cork in November 1878.