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J R Soc Med. 1994 December; 87(12): 773–776.
PMCID: PMC1294995

Surgeon James Ramsay, 1733-1789: the Navy and the slave trade.


The end of the American War of Independence in 1783 coincided with two very different, but closely related initiatives: the settlement of New South Wales and the fight against the slave trade. In both, James Ramsay, a naval surgeon, played a decisive role. James Ramsay was born on 25 July 1733 at Fraserburgh on the Aberdeenshire coast. After a grammar school education, he was apprenticed to a Dr Findlay, surgeon and physician in Fraserburgh. Through his proficiency in Latin, he obtained a small bursary which enabled him to enter King's College in the University of Aberdeen and brought Ramsay under the influence of Dr Thomas Reid, the professor of moral philosophy, who exercised a profound influence on Ramsay's thinking (Vol 17, pp 632-3).

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  • Watt J. Health and settlement 1788-95: surgeons and the environment. Aust N Z J Surg. 1989 Dec;59(12):923–931. [PubMed]

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