Medical Officers
Of the Malta Garrison
Thomas Crawford
1824 – 1895

No 202 Surgeon Thomas Crawford

KCB (Mil 1885) QHS (1886) MD (Ed 1845) LLD (Ed 1884) FRCSI FRCPI

1 Mar 1824 [Dumbrain Co. Monaghan] – 12 Oct 1895 [Blackheath]

T Crawford
Sir Thomas Crawford KCB photographed by Henry Wayland Blackheath.

Thomas Crawford was the son of Mr Joseph Crawford of Drumbrain. He was educated at the University of Edinburgh where he graduated in 1845. From it he received the degree of LLD at the tercentenary in 1887. He was an Honorary Fellow of both Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons in Ireland, and was created a military KCB in 1885 and an Honorary Surgeon to the Queen from October 1886.

Thomas Crawford entered the Army Medical Service as assistant surgeon in 1848. He served in the Burmese and Pegu war of 1852–53, with the 51st Light Infantry Regiment. He was on board the Hon. East India Company steam frigate Feroog during the naval action and destruction of the stockades in the Rangoon river. He was present at the storming and capture of Rangoon and Bassein. He also took part in various skirmishes at Prome and in the advance on Meaday, for which he received the Burmese medal with clasp for Pegu.

Subsequently gazetted to the 18th Royal Irish Regiment, he served in the Crimea from February 1855 to the fall of Sebastopol, for which he obtained the Crimean medal and clasp for Sebastopol and the Turkish Medal. Surgeon Crawford served with his regiment as principal medical officer to the Southern India Field Force in the Northern Mahratta country and the Deccan in 1857–1858. He was subsequently elected head of the medical branch in the Director General's office in London. He afterwards proceeded to India as Superintending Surgeon of the Sirhind Circle in Bengal. On his return to England, he was appointed head of the Army Medical Department in Ireland, but not long afterwards left again for India as Surgeon General of HM Forces in India. He occupied that position during the Second Afghan Campaign and was thanked for his services in General Orders by the Commander-in-chief and by the Governor General in Council. In 1882, he returned to England as Director-General of the Army Medical Department, a post he held from 1882 to 1889.

The Egyptian expedition of 1882 caused a severe strain on the Director-General and his office; but his steady hand, and the able men he had around him brought the Department triumphantly through most unfair criticism, and even a semi-hostile Commission. He was a man of fine presence, generous disposition, excellent address and fluent speech. Sir Thomas was twice married, first to Clara Frances, daughter of Mr. Richard Molison, of Dublin, who died in 1860; and, secondly, in 1869, to Mary Jane, daughter of General Clement A. Edwards, CB. Lady Crawford predeceased him by only a few months. Sir Thomas died at his residence St John's Park Blackheath aged 71 years. He had been confined to bed for four weeks prior to his death, suffering from acute cystitis with kidney affection. He left a very large family, mostly of young boys, who lost both their parents within the year.1

Service Record

18 Feb 1848 Assistant Surgeon 51st (2nd Yorkshire, West Riding, The King's Own Light Infantry) Regiment.

1852–1853 Served with the 51st Light Infantry throughout the Burmese War of 1852–53, including the storming and capture of Rangoon and the capture of Bassein on May 10. He was at the storming of the White Horse Redoubt.

9 Feb 1855 Promoted Surgeon 1st/18th (The Royal Irish) Regiment vice Surgeon James Stewart appointed to Staff.
Served with the 18th Regiment in the Crimean War from 9 Feb 1855 to the fall of Sebastopol.

Malta 2 Dec 1855 Arrived from England.

Malta 1856 On duty with 18th Foot.

1857–1858 Served in India with the 18th Regiment.
Was Principal Medical Officer to the Southern India Field Force during the mutiny campaign of 1857-58, serving in the Northern Mahratta country and in the Deccan.

23 May 1860 Clara Frances, wife of Thomas Crawford MD 2nd/18th Foot and daughter of Richard Morrison Esq of Dublin, died at Secunderabad.

22 Oct 1861 Staff Surgeon.

1862–1869 In London.

1864–1872 Head of The Medical Branch, Medical Department War Office, under Sir James Gibson.

18 Feb 1868 Promoted Surgeon–Major.

1870–1871 In London.

1 Feb 1870 Promoted Deputy Surgeon–General for special service.
Left for India where he was given the medical charge of the large camp assembled in the Punjab in 1872, and in consequence of his reports on the sanitary condition of the troops, important improvements were carried out.
Superintending-Surgeon of the Sirhind Circle in Bengal.

1872–1876 In Umballa.

1873 Deputy Surgeon–General.

5 Dec 1876 Promoted Surgeon–General.

1877–1879 Principal Medical Officer in Dublin.

1880–1882 Principal Medical Officer HM Forces in India.
Served as Surgeon-General of Madras Army vice Surgeon-General C.A. Gordon MD CB, and subsequently of Bombay. During his tenure of this office the amalgamation of the two administrative medical services was carried out, and he became Principal Medical Officer to Her Majesty's Forces in India.

While serving there he was offered the appointment of Director-General at home, but, owing to the desire of the Indian Government to retain his services, he did not take over the duties of this appointment, in succession to Sir William Muir, until a year later.
Introduced the Station Hospital system in India.

1880 Was mentioned in despatches for his service in the Afghan War.

7 May 1882–1889 Appointed Director General Army Medical Department vice Sir W. M. Muir KCB MD.
During his tenure of office he oversaw the implementation of the Royal Warrant of 20 Sept 1884, by which the medical officers and quarter masters became Army Medical Staff, and the Army Hospital Corps became the Medical Staff Corps, under the command of officers of the Army Medical Staff.

He was at variance with the Medical Staff officers of the Army Medical Department following the abolition of relative rank. He kept to the official line taken by the Secretary of State for War that relative rank meant nothing, and that the position of the medical staff in the army was in no way affected thereby.2

25 Aug 1885 Was conferred with an Honorary LLD at the Tercentenary celebrations of the University of Edinburgh.

7 May 1889 Retired on half-pay.

12 Oct 1895 Died from acute cystitis with renal involvement. His eight orphans received financial assistance from the Army Medical Officers Benevolent Fund.