Sir James Young Simpson (1811-1870)

Sir James Young Simpson (1811-1870)

Physician and obstetrician

James Young Simpson entered the University of Edinburgh aged 14, passed his final medical examination four years later, but was considered too young to go into practice for a further two years. He went on to become Professor of Midwifery in 1840. In January 1847 he used ether as an anaesthetic in childbirth for the first time. By November of that year he had tested the superior qualities of chloroform on himself and his colleagues. His services as an early founder of gynaecology and proponent of hospital reform were rewarded with a knighthood and by 1847 he had been appointed as physician to the Queen in Scotland.

Birth in 1811

James Simpson was born on 7 June 1811, the son of David Simpson and Mary Jarvey. The entry in the Old Parish Register (OPR) for Bathgate doesn't record a middle name and gives the date of baptism as 30 June.

Baptism entry for James Young Simpson

Birth and baptism entry for James Young Simpson (19 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 662/2, page 100

Marriage in 1839

Doctor James Young Simpson married Janet Grindlay on 26 December 1839 at St John's Church, Toxteth Park in Liverpool. The entry in the Old Parish Register for St Cuthbert's gives his address as 1 Dean Terrace (Edinburgh) and shows that the couple were proclaimed three times in the parishes of St Cuthbert's and St Bernard's.

Marriage entry for James Young Simpson

Marriage entry for James Young Simpson (61 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 685-2/44, page 266

1841 and 1861 censuses

In 1841 James Simpson, 29, professor of midwifery, was living at 22 Albany Street with his wife and baby daughter. The census schedule in the enumeration district of Edinburgh includes two servants.

1841 census entry for James Young Simpson

Household of James Young Simpson in the 1841 census of Edinburgh (38 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1841/685-1/117, page 15

By 1861 James Y Simpson, MD, Edinburgh Professor etc was living with his son, an assistant and three servants at 52 Queen Street in the census enumeration district of St Andrew, Edinburgh.

1861 census entry for James Young Simpson

Household of James Young Simpson (25 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1861/685-2/2, page 9

Death in 1870

Sir James Young Simpson died on 6 May 1870. The entry in the statutory register of deaths for St Andrew, Edinburgh gives his age at death as 58 and place of death as 52 Queen Street, Edinburgh.

Death entry for James Young Simpson

Death entry for James Young Simpson (42 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1870/685-2/292

Testament of Sir James Young Simpson

National Records of Scotland, SC70/4/127 pp 958-1013

View transcript (106 KB PDF)

The images of the original document are in jpeg format (approximately 160 KB):

View page 1 of the actual document
View page 2 of the actual document
View page 3 of the actual document
View page 4 of the actual document
View page 5 of the actual document
View page 6 of the actual document
View page 7 of the actual document
View page 8 of the actual document
View page 9 of the actual document
View page 10 of the actual document

View page 11 of the actual document
View page 12 of the actual document
View page 13 of the actual document
View page 14 of the actual document
View page 15 of the actual document
View page 16 of the actual document
View page 17 of the actual document
View page 18 of the actual document
View page 19 of the actual document
View page 20 of the actual document

View page 21 of the actual document
View page 22 of the actual document
View page 23 of the actual document
View page 24 of the actual document
View page 25 of the actual document
View page 26 of the actual document
View page 27 of the actual document
View page 28 of the actual document