National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

James Lind (1716-1794)

James Lind (1716-1794)

Naval surgeon and physician

James Lind was apprenticed to an Edinburgh surgeon and attended anatomy lectures at the University of Edinburgh. He served as a Royal Navy surgeon for several years before returning to Edinburgh in 1748. His concern for the welfare of seamen led to the publication of 'A Treatise of the Scurvy' in 1753. This set out his observations on the causes of the disorder - diet and a cold, damp environment - and the results of his experiments. These had shown that patients given oranges and lemons recovered quickly - the significance of this finding wasn't fully appreciated until after his death. In 1758 he became physician in charge of the Haslar Royal Naval Hospital at Gosport. Here he introduced new regimes and updated his recommendations for reducing disease at sea with improvements to hygiene, ventilation and diet. Another publication on fevers in hot climates was translated into several languages. James Lind was elected a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh in 1750 and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1783. He died at Gosport on 18 July 1794 and was buried at Portchester in Hampshire.

Birth in 1716

James Lin was born on 4 October 1716, the son of James Lin, merchant, and Margaret Smellin [variant of Smellum or Smelholme], his spouse. The entry in the Old Parish Register (OPR) for Edinburgh is dated 7 October and names the witnesses (W) to the baptism as George Lynd and William Blackwood, merchants. It includes two variations of the standard spelling of his surname.

Birth and baptism entry for James Lind

Birth and baptism entry for James Lind (55 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 685-1/16, page 90