- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Sir George Ballingall


Related eponyms

British surgeon, born May 2, 1780, Forglen in Banffshire; died December 4, 1855, on his estate Altamont near Blaigowrie in Pertshire.

Biography of Sir George Ballingall

Sir George Ballingall first attended four literary sessions at the University of St Andrews, and then commenced medical studies at the University of Edinburgh, where for a period he was assistant physician under the anatomist John Barclay (1758-1826). He received his diploma from the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh, on December 17, 1805.

In 1806 he entered the army and became assistant surgeon with the 2nd battalion of the Royal Scots or First Royals. The colonel of this battalion was the duke of Kent, who was a lifelong benefactor of Ballingall. Ballingall gained his expertise as an army surgeon between 1806 and his retiral on half-pay in 1818. Ballingall accompanied his regiment to Madras, India, and witnessed the capture of Java in 1811. In 1814 he returned to Europe, and in 1815 joined the occupational army in Paris as surgeon to the 33rd infantry regiment. Ballingall re-matriculated in 1816 to study chemistry and military surgery before formally graduating doctor of medicine in 1819, after having retired to Halbsold the previous year.

Upon the retirement of John Thomson (1765-1846), Ballingall in 1822 was appointed his successor as Regius Professor of Military Surgery at the University of Edinburgh, soon afterwards becoming surgeon to the Royal Infirmary. On the occasion of the accession of the throne by William IV in 1830, when Ballingall was a member of a homage deputation from the university senate, he was knighted. After Ballingall’s death the chair of military surgeon was abolished.

Ballingall had the title of Surgeon to the Queen, earlier also Surgeon to the Duke and Duchess of Kent. In his later years he was consulting surgeon to the Royal Infirmary.

An elephant’s skeleton he prepared and sent to the anatomist John Barclay from Bangalore became the subject of a caricature drawn by Edinburgh artist John Kay as a comment on a controversial proposed professorship of Comparative Anatomy. The equally controversial professorship of Military Surgery was to occupy much of Sir George’s time and effort during his tenure in the post, as he fervently sought to impress upon the political authorities of the day the necessity of teaching military surgery as a separate discipline, and to establish similar chairs or lectureships in London and Dublin.

He also took a keen interest in the running of the Army Medical Department, particularly during the disastrous Crimean years. He assembled preparations and exhibits, incorporating the collection of Sir Rutherford Alcock (1816–1897), to be displayed in a museum attached to the class of military surgery, and some of the dry preparations (bones) still survive.


  • De Apoplexia Sanguinea.
    Doctoral dissertation, University of Edinburgh, 1819.
  • Case of hydrophobia etc.
    Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal, volume XI, 1818.
  • Two cases of dislocations of the thumb.
    Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal, volume XI, 1818.
  • Practical observations on fever, dysentery, and liver complaints, as they occur amongst European troops in India; with introductory remarks on the disadvantages of selecting boys for Indian military service.
    Edinburgh, D. Brown & A. Constable, 1818.
    2nd edition, comprising Essay on Syphilis, written in 1820.
    Ballingall distinguished between amoebic and bacillary dysentery. Review of some of the surgical cases which have lately occurred in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.
    (Nos. 1-5, 1827.1829).
  • Clinical lectures.
    Five lectures given at the Royal Infirmary 1826-1829.
  • Introductory lectures to a course of anatomy, delivered by the late John Barclay. With a memoir of the life of the author.
    Edinburgh, 1828.
  • Introductory lectures to a course of military surgery, delivered in the University of Edinburgh.
    Edinburgh, 1830; German translation, Lemgo, 1834.
  • Outlines of the Course of Lectures on Military Surgery, delivered etc.
    Edinburgh, 1833.
    Later published as: Outlines of Military Surgery. 5th edition, 1855.
  • Letter to Henry Warburton, Esq., chairman of a committee of the House of Commons appointed to inquire into the state of medical profession.
    Edinburgh, 1834.
    On the professional interests and education of military physicians.
  • On school of naval and military surgery. To the editor of the Medico-Chirugical Review. 1844.
  • Observations on the site and construction of hospitals.
    Edinburgh, 1851.

What is an eponym?

An eponym is a word derived from the name of a person, whether real or fictional. A medical eponym is thus any word related to medicine, whose name is derived from a person.

What is Whonamedit?

Whonamedit.com is a biographical dictionary of medical eponyms. It is our ambition to present a complete survey of all medical phenomena named for a person, with a biography of that person.


Whonamedit? does not give medical advice.
This survey of medical eponyms and the persons behind them is meant as a general interest site only. No information found here must under any circumstances be used for medical purposes, diagnostically, therapeutically or otherwise. If you, or anybody close to you, is affected, or believe to be affected, by any condition mentioned here: see a doctor.