RAMC Officers
Of the Malta Garrison
Jeffery Allen
1831 – 1911

444 Surgeon General Jeffery Allen Marston

CB (Mil 1887) MD (St And 1854) MRCS (Eng 1854) LSAL (1854) FRCS (Eng 1888)

2 Dec 1831 [Martham Norfolk] – 31 Mar 1911 [London]

J A Marston
Jeffery Allen Marston (RAMC/1656).

Surgeon General Jeffery Allen Marston studied at the University of Glasgow and at Newcastle Hospital. He took the diplomas of MRCS (28 July 1854) and LSA (26 October 1854) and the degree of MD from the University of St Andrews (20 October 1854). He became MRCP (Lond) in 1887 and FRCS (Eng) in 1888. He entered the Army Medical Department as an Acting Assistant Surgeon on 10 November 1854.

After serving for some years with the Royal artillery, he was stationed in London and subsequently in Bengal. While holding a sanitary appointed in India, he came under the the influence of Dr Bryden, who held strong views on the nature and seasonal prevalence of cholera. Marston adopted Bryden's views, which led him to entertain considerable doubts on the waterborne theory of the disease and to the validity of the bacteriological observations.

Surgeon General Marston was Sanitary Officer during the Egyptian Campaign of 1882. He was present at the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir and was mentioned in Sir Garnet Wolseley's despatches dated Cairo 24 September 1882 (London Gazette 2 November 1882). He was promoted Deputy Surgeon General for his services in Egypt. He received the medal with clasp, the Khedive's Bronze Star and was awarded the Order of the Osmanieh third Class.

In December 1882, he was placed in charge of the Sanitary and Statistical Branch of the Medical Department at the War Office. He relinquished this post a short time before he left the service on retired pay, on 16 October 1889.

Among his publications were:

Service Record

10 Nov 1854 Appointed Acting Assistant Surgeon.

3 Dec 1854 Arrived from England.

29 Dec 1854 Appointed Assistant Surgeon vice Staff Assistant Surgeon Henry Grange who became Assistant Surgeon 47th Foot.

1855 On duty at Malta.

28 Feb 1856 Left for Gibraltar.

16 Aug 1856 Married Annie Aston Webb, aged 30 years, at Broxbourne Church Hertfordshire.

1 July 1857 Assistant Surgeon 2 Royal Artillery.

25 Aug 1857 Arrived from Gibraltar.

1858 On duty with 2 Royal Artillery.

1859 On duty with 6 Royal Artillery.
In his report on Fever in Malta, Marston stated that during 1859, the garrison suffered severely from the epidemic prevalence of typhoid or enteric fever. In 1855-56, a typhus fever patient was admitted into one of the hospitals from a transport vessel from the Crimea. The patient died, together with the two attendants who also contracted the fever. In 1859, Simple Continued Fever or Malta Fever reached a maximum of 269.5 per 1000 strength.

22 Nov 1860 Burial of Sydney Allen Marston aged 3 months, son of Assistant Surgeon J A Marston RA at Ta' Braxia Cemetery Pietà.

Ophthalmia, vesicular lids with slight inflammation (Fr Marston J. A., On Ophthalmia 1862.)

In his On Ophthalmia (1862), Marston states that the disease was endemic in Malta.

I know that the follicular looking granulations exist in very many inhabitants of the lower orders, among whom the strumous and catarrhal varieties are also remarkably frequent. The predisposing causes, dirt, effluvia, defective ablution and poor ventilation are rife among them.

While in Gozo, Marston examined the eyes of a number of poor children who worked in the fields with their parents during the day, and slept in the most wretched confined cabins at night. Vesicular lids were very common among them, although conjunctivitis appeared to prevail less than in the crowded city of Valletta.

12 Jan 1861 PMO Malta stated that Marston was attentive and zealous, very regular, professional attainments high.

29 Aug 1861 Left for England. In 1861, Marsten fell ill with undulant fever.

1863 On duty with 6 Bty Royal Artillery.
Wrote the first description of Mediterranean Fever or Gastric remittent and bilious fever. Marston contracted the disease in 1861, and described his own case. The fever had a peculiarly irregular temperature curve, consisting of intermittent waves of pyrexia of a distinctly remittent type. These waves of pyrexial intensity were separated by periods of apyrexia, or abatement of severity, giving a peculiar relapsing character to the fever. In some instances the daily remissions became so marked that the temperature became intermittent (but non-paroxysmal) in character.

The duration of the fever was long and indefinite, the average pyrexial duration lasting from sixty to seventy days, the average stay in hospital over ninety days, while cases had been known to suffer from the pyrexial condition for over six months. The pyrexia was accompanied by progressive anaemia, a tendency to constipation, swelling and effusion in various joints, profuse perspiration, and a peculiar irritability of the nervous system characterised by sciatica and other neuritic symptoms.

Pathologically, the spleen became enlarged and softened, many of the organs congested, but the intestines were free from ulceration. The disease prevailed during the hot dry months between May and October, with a maximum prevalence in July, August, and September.

At the time it was not known how men became infected and bad sanitation was implicated. It was surmised that the fever arrived on shore as an aerial infection arising from drains or soil infected by the excrement of previous sufferers from the disease. By this means it entered the human system by way of the throat or air passages. Its prevalence followed an inverse ratio to the amount and continuance of the rainfall. The mortality did not exceed 2 per cent of cases, but the duration of sickness was very long.1

29 May 1867 Appointed Staff Assistant Surgeon from 6 Royal Artillery vice Staff Assistant Surgeon Charles Spurway who moved to the Royal Artillery.

1867–Oct 1877 On duty in London.

8 June 1867 Promoted Staff Surgeon.

1 Mar 1873 Promoted Surgeon–Major Army Medical Department.

1874 Gave valuable assistance during the Ashanti Expedition especially in the fitting out of the Hospital Ship Victor Emmanuel.

10 Nov 1874 Appointed Surgeon Major.

Oct 1877 Left London to take up the appointment of Secretary to the Surgeon General of India. Surgeon Major Alfred Clarke succeeded him in the Sanitary Branch of the War Office.

1878 Appointed Secretary to Surgeon–General John Harry Ker Innes Principal Medical Officer of the Afghanistan Expeditionary Force, Second Afghan War. In General Order HQ Simla, dated 14 October 1879, Surgeon-General Innes prominently noted the valuable services rendered to him by his Secretary-Surgeon J. A. Marston, Army Medical Department (AMD).3

1878–1881 On duty in Bengal.

Feb 1880 Brigade Surgeon. In February 1880, the London Gazette announced the promotion of 49 surgeon-majors to the new rank of Brigade-Surgeon under the provision of the Royal Warrant of 27 November 1879.

10 Sep 1881 Appointed honorary surgeon on the personal staff of Lord Ripon Governor General of India.

July–Oct 1882 Appointed to the staff of the Quarter Master General in Egypt.

1 Aug–10 Nov 1882 Served in the Egyptian War as Sanitary Officer with temporary rank of Deputy Surgeon–General.
Marston was compelled to leave Egypt on account of illness. On 9 October 1882, he wrote, the army ceased to be an army in the field, and I ceased to be sanitary officer to the force, but continued to exercise a general sanitary supervision until my health became too much impaired to carry on the work.2

18 Nov 1882 Special promotion to Deputy Surgeon–General for his services as Sanitary Officer in Egypt, for which he received an excellent testimonial from the PMO of the Egyptian Campaign. He was present at the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir and received the Imperial Ottoman Order of the Osmanieh (3rd Class) for his services in Egypt.

18 Nov 1882 Returned to London from Egypt. Promoted Deputy Surgeon–General.

16 Dec 1882–1888 Succeeded Deputy Surgeon–General John Irvine AMD as Head of the Sanitary and Statistical branch on the headquarters Staff War Office. Marston was the last holder of this appointment.
Irvine succeeded Surgeon–General Sir James Arthur Hanbury KCB as Principal Medical Officer of the army of occupation in Egypt, with the local and temporary rank of Surgeon–General.

1882 Appointed Honorary Surgeon to the Viceroy of India.

1884 Appointed by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland to serve on a commission to enquire into and report upon certain matters affecting the well being and efficiency of the Queen's Colleges in Ireland.

Apr 1887 Acting Professor of Military Hygiene at the Army Medical School Netley. The 54th session of the Army Medical School at Netley opened on 1 April. Due to the illness of Professor De Chaumont Francis Stephen Bennet Francois, Professor of Hygiene, the teaching of hygiene was taken on by Surgeon–General Marston, the chief of the Sanitary Branch at the War Office, who possessed very extensive experience in the subject of Hygiene both at home and abroad, and who was aided by Surgeon–Major O'Reilly and Assistant Professor of Hygiene Davies.

21 June 1887 Nominated a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in the Jubilee Honours.

Aug 1887 Delegate on behalf of the Government at the International Medical Congress held at Washington, United States of America.

19 May 1888 The British Medical Journal reported that it was more than probable that Deputy Surgeon General J. A. Marston CB, will take up the duties of the late Professor de Chaumont at Netley. He temporarily filled the Chair of Hygiene at Netley during Dr de Chaumont's illness last summer. It is said Dr Marston will not retire, but will probably be seconded. It was a grievance of the late lamented Dr de Chaumont's that retirement as Surgeon-Major was forced on him, to his detriment, when he became Professor.

26 May 1888 The British Medical Journal published a letter from a medical officer signing himself as Army Medical Department stating that he regarded the proposed appointment of Deputy Surgeon Marston to the Chair of Hygiene at Netley as a slight upon the the many hundreds of former pupils of the school who have passed through the practical course, and some of whom hold university honours in chemistry, and, unlike Dr Marston, have studied practical military hygiene with soldiers for years in all climates, and not in the headquarters offices of the department in which Dr Marston has spent at least twenty years.

Army Medical Department said that Dr Marston, on the suppression of his appointment in London, was ordered on foreign service. If he is now seconded to fill the post of Hygiene at Netley, he will have another spell of home service out of his turn while running up the list for promotion, and take up the latter when it suits him. The future of the Army Medical School is now trembling in the balance. It costs nearly £7000 a year. In the interest of the department and economy this appointment should be conferred on some officer of the executive grade, of active habits, with a practical knowledge of soldiering, a good chemist, and who would not require an assistant. Hygiene is taught in every university in the present day. Several officers hold the diploma of sanitary science, which Deputy Surgeon-General Marston does not, and are more capable of giving a short practical course of lectures and demonstrations than the gentleman referred to, however excellent he may be in other respects.4
Marston did not fill the Chair of Military Hygiene which was instead offered to Surgeon Major James Lane Notter, who in October 1888 was gazetted Professor of Military Hygiene.

Oct 1888 Posted from Woolwich to Egypt.

7 May 1889 Promoted Surgeon–General, ranking as Major–General vice William Alexander Mackinnon CB who was appointed Director General of the Army Medical Department. Brigade–Surgeon Charles Hervè Giraud was promoted Deputy Surgeon–General vice J. A. Marston.

May 1889 Surgeon–General J. A. Marston took over the duties of Principal Medical Officer at Gibraltar. He was succeeded as PMO in Egypt by Deputy Surgeon–General James Jameson MD, SMO at Chatham.

16 Oct 1889 Granted retired pay.

1 July 1890 Reappointed as a retired officer Member of the Army Sanitary Committee.

26 Apr 1899 Appointed Honorary Surgeon to the Queen vice Honorary Deputy Inspector General Joseph Jee VC CB who had died on 17 March 1899.

31 Mar 1911 Surgeon–General J. A. Marston died at his house at 56, Nevern Square, South Kensington, London aged 79 years. He was buried at Charlton Cemetery.