Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Marshall, Henry

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MARSHALL, HENRY, M.D. (1775–1851), inspector-general of army hospitals, son of John Marshall, was born in 1776 at Kilsyth in Stirlingshire. Although his father was a comparatively poor man, Henry had the advantage of studying medicine at Glasgow university, and subsequently received an appointment, in May 1803, as surgeon's mate in the royal navy. This post he relinquished in January 1805 for that of assistant-surgeon of the Forfarshire regiment of militia, exchanging in April 1806 into the 69th regiment. With the last regiment he served in South America, at the Cape of Good Hope, and in Ceylon. 'We find him,' writes his biographer, John Brown, M.D, (1810–1882) [q. v.], in 'Horæ Subsecivæ,' 'when a mere lad at the Cape, in the beginning of the century, making out tables of the diseases of the soldiers, of the comparative health of different stations and ages and climates; investigating the relation of degradation, ignorance, crime, and ill-usage to the efficiency of the army and to its cost, and from that time to the last day of his life devoting his entire energies to devising and doing good to the common soldier.'

In 1809 Marshall was gazetted as assistant-surgeon to the 2nd Ceylon regiment, and in 1813 he was promoted surgeon of the 1st Ceylon regiment. He served in Ceylon till 1821, when he returned home on his appointment to the staff of North Britain. From Edinburgh he removed to Chatham two years afterwards, and in 1825 he crossed to Dublin on the staff of the recruiting depot. In 1838 he acted on the commission for revising the regulations as to the discharge of soldiers from the service. During 1829 he was engaged in the war office, and in 1830 be was appointed deputy-inspector of hospitals, with which rank he retired on half-pay. In 1835 Marshall was directed, together with Sir A. M. Tulloch, to investigate the statistics of the sickness, mortality, and invaliding of the British army, and their report with regard to the health of the troops in the West Indies, laid before parliament in 1836, caused a complete revolution in the treatment of soldiers in Jamaica, which, till the appearance of the report, had been simply a military charnel-house. In 1847 he received the honorary title of Doctor in Medicine from the university of New York, the first instance in which the honour was conferred. He died at Edinburgh on 5 May 1851, after a long and painful illness. In 1832, when he was fifty-six years of age, he married Anne, eldest daughter of James Wingate of Westshiels, Roxburghshire.

Marshall, who was an indefatigable writer, was the first to prove the value of military medical statistics.

His works include: 1. ‘A Description of the Laurus Cinnamomum’ in ‘The Annals of Philosophy,’ 1817. 2. ‘Notes on the Medical Topography of the Interior of Ceylon,’ London, 1821, 8vo. 3. ‘Hints to young Medical Officers of the Army on the examination of Recruits and the Feigned Disabilities of Soldiers,’ London, 1828, 8vo. 4. ‘On the Enlisting, the Discharging, and the Pensioning of Soldiers,’ London, 1832, 8vo; 2nd edit. 1839. 5. ‘Military Miscellany; comprehending a History of the Recruiting of the Army …,’ London, 1846, 8vo. 6. ‘Ceylon. A General Description of the Island. … With an Historical Sketch of the Conquest of the Colony by the English,’ London, 1846, 12mo. 7. ‘Suggestions for the Advancement of Military Medical Literature,’ n.p., n.d. [1849], 8vo. In addition to these works Marshall contributed numerous papers to the ‘London Medical and Physical Journal,’ the ‘Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal,’ and the ‘United Service Journal.’

[Dr. Henry Marshall and Military Hygiene in Horæ Subsecivæ, 1st series, by John Brown, M.D.; Edin. Med. & Surg. Journal, vol. lxxvi; Chambers's Biog. Dict. of Eminent Scotsmen, ed. Thomson.]

G. S-h.