James Bowen Thompson Turkey Lebanon Syrian Arab Republic Ukraine

Biography of James Bowen Thompson

James Bowen Thompson was born in 1814 to William Thompson of Dublin. He graduated MD CM from the University in 1836.

A former student of Sir William Jackson Hooker, Thompson had been a surgeon with the Colonial Land and Emigration Commission in Polynesia between 1840-1841, and was a physician at the Royal General Dispensary in London when he took the appointment as a medical missionary with the Syrian Medical Aid Association in 1844. In this position he set up a small hospital at Damascus. He had been accompanied as translator and Medical Assistant by Mr Antonius G. Ameuny, a native of Syria who had received three years' training at King's College, London.

Dr Thompson administered this hospital until funding ceased in 1848. He returned to London where in 1850 he married Elizabeth Maria Lloyd who had been a member of the Syro-Egyptian Committee formed with Sir Culling Eardley as President.

Dr Thompson was involved in plans to open a direct railway communication to India by the Euphrates valley and this involved visits to Constantinople. Dr Thompson had property at Suediah, near Antioch, and he and Elizabeth Maria resided there doing medical and evangelistic work between 1854-1855. Elizabeth Maria's sister and brother-in-law Mr Mentor Mott were also doing evangelistic work in Southern Syria at this time.

At the outbreak of the Crimean War, James volunteered to do medical work to help alleviate the suffering of the Army. He was present at the Battle of the Alma. He succumbed to typhoid at Balaklava and was transported to Kululee Hospital, Constantinople, where he died on 5th August 1855. His widow Elizabeth Maria was to found the British Syrian Mission in 1860.


Archival Materials

  • Addison, W. Innes, A Roll of the Graduates of the University of Glasgow from 31st December, 1727 to 31st Decmeber, 1897, with short biographical notes, Glasgow : J. MacLehose & Sons, 1898.
  • R1/5/1 Graduation Albums Higher Degrees in Medicine 1817-1883 (Ch.M. and Ch.B.)
  • R9/1/1 Class Catalogues 1794-1838


  • Biographical information provided by Hon. Archivist, EMMS International.


James Bowen Thompson
Born 1814.
Died 5 August 1855.
GU Degree: MD CM, 1836;
University Link: Graduate
Occupation categories: physicians
English snippet: Medical graduate of the University of Glasgow, Chief medical officer in Damascus 1844-48
Record last updated: 1st May 2015

Country Associations

Turkey Turkey, Istanbul
Place of Death

Lebanon Lebanon, No Region

Syrian Arab Republic Syrian Arab Republic, Damascus

Ukraine Ukraine, Sevastopol, Balaklava

University Connections

University Roles