Blair, John

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MB 1874 MD 1877 MD (Melb) FRCSEd FOS

John Blair, the son of a master mariner, was born in Bo’ness in Scotland on 9 February 1834. He trained at Glasgow and Edinburgh and obtained a surgical licence (LRCSEd) in 1857. He came to Melbourne the same year registering in early 1858 and starting practice first in Northcote and then in Melbourne. He obtained additional qualifications later in life, being elected a Fellow of the Obstetrical Society of London (FOS) in 1866 and a Fellow of the Edinburgh College of Surgeons in 1874. He had passed the matriculation examination of the University of Melbourne in 1864 under the Special Regulations but, doubtless chastened by the experience of other members of the Medical Society of Victoria, seems not to have presented for examination. Rather, he followed the far safer procedure (perhaps after seeing the success of Stewart, Lloyd and Moore) of applying at the University of Sydney (MB 1874, MD 1877) and achieving the Melbourne MD ad eundem gradum in 1883 the same year that he was appointed to the Medical Board of Victoria.

John’s importance to Australian medicine lies almost entirely in his activities with the Medical Society of Victoria and the foundation of the Alfred Hospital. From the time of his arrival in Melbourne, he became involved in the Medical Society and was appointed Honorary Secretary in 1860, retaining this position for 10 years to subsequently become President. More significant still, he was an instigator in the drive to found the Alfred Hospital, becoming one of its Honorary Surgeons from when it was established in 1871 until his death. Within the hospital he was active in improving the standards of nursing and in developing the concept that a patient should pay for hospital treatment according to his means.

Citation: Mellor, Lise (2008) Blair, John. Faculty of Medicine Online Museum and Archive, University of Sydney.

An alternate version appears in: Young, J A, Sefton, A J, Webb, N. Centenary Book of the University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine, (1984) Sydney University Press for The University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine.