Cormack, John Rose (DNB00)

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CORMACK, Sir JOHN ROSE, M.D. (1815–1882), was born at Stow, Midlothian, on 1 March 1815, his father, the Rev. John Cormack, D.D., being minister there. He studied medicine at Edinburgh, graduating in 1837, and receiving a gold medal for his thesis on the presence of air in the organs of circulation. In the same year he was senior president of the Edinburgh Royal Medical Society, and presided at its centenary festival. After study in Paris he commenced practice in Edinburgh, and was appointed physician to the Royal Infirmary and the Fever Hospital. His ‘Observations on the Relapsing Fever Epidemic in 1843’ increased his reputation, and he sought permission to give clinical lectures at the infirmary. This being refused, he resigned in 1845, and removed to London in 1847, where he practised until ill-health compelled him to settle in Orleans in 1866. In 1869, on the death of Sir Joseph Olliffe, physician to the British embassy, he removed to Paris, graduating M.D. in the university of France in 1870. With his wife, one son (a doctor, who died in 1876), and one daughter, he remained in Paris during the siege and the Commune, and rendered conspicuous services to British residents, and to the wounded of both sides. He was made chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1871, and knighted in 1872. He was afterwards appointed physician to the Hertford British Hospital, established by Sir R. Wallace, and had a considerable practice in Paris. He was a skilful physician, characterised by great sympathy and devotion to duty. He died on 13 May 1882 at his house in the Rue St.-Honoré; his widow survived him three months; he had a son and four daughters.

Cormack was much occupied in medical literature. In 1841 he started the ‘Edinburgh Monthly Journal of Medical Science,’ and conducted it ably until 1847. He established the ‘London Journal of Medicine’ in 1849, carrying it on till the end of 1852, when he was appointed editor of the ‘Association Medical Journal’ (now known as the ‘British Medical Journal’). He resigned this post in September 1855. He translated four volumes of Trousseau's ‘Clinical Lectures’ (vols. ii–v.) for the New Sydenham Society. In 1876 he published a collection of his principal writings, including some valuable papers on cholera, diphtheria, and paralysis, under the title of ‘Clinical Studies,’ in two volumes.

[British Medical Journal, 20 May 1882, p. 761; Medical Times, 10 June 1882, p. 624; Lancet, 20 May 1882, p. 847.]

G. T. B.