Dr James Sims (1741 - 1820):
James Sims was born in County Down in 1741, son of a Presbyterian minister, Rev Samuel Simms (both spellings of the surname were used), minister of Annahilt Presbyterian Church, County Down and later of Tullylish Presbyterian Church in the same county. After schooling, Sims enrolled at the University of Leiden, where he obtained his MD in 1764, defending a thesis “De Temperie Fœminea et Morbis inde oriundis”. He returned to Ireland, and practised medicine for a time in Strabane, County Tyrone before moving to London, where he was admitted a Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians on 30 September 1778. He served as a physician to the General Dispensary in Aldersgate Street and to the Surrey Dispensary, and he was the first chairman and vice-president of the Philanthropic Society; he was also a member of the Humane Society, and served for twenty-two years as President of the Medical Society of London. He had a valuable collection of books, which he donated to the Medical Society in 1802. He retired to Bath in 1910 and died there in 1820.
His published books included Observations on Epidemic Diseases, with Remarks on Nervous and Malignant Fevers in 1773 and A Discourse on the Best Method of Prosecuting Medical Enquiries in 1774.
An acquaintance described him as “a good-humoured pleasant man, full of anecdote, an ample reservoir of good things, and for figures and facts a perfect chronicle of other times. He had a most retentive memory; but when that failed, he referred to a book of knowledge, from which he quoted with oracular authority.”
Dictionary of National Biography 1885-1900; RSJ Clarke: A Directory of Ulster Doctors (Belfast, Ulster Historical Foundation, 2013)
© 2020 Ulster History Circle