Sam Hanna Bell Samuel Beckett John Hewitt Bernard (Barney) Hughes James Joseph Magennis VC Frances Elizabeth Clarke Stewart Parker William Carleton Rosamond Praegar

Thomas Fullerton (1867 - 1907):
Military surgeon

Thomas Fullerton, full brother of Andrew Fullerton (1868-1934) who was Professor of Surgery, Queen’s University Belfast (1923-1933),was born at Abbeyleix, County Laois, one of the seven sons (of whom two died in childhood) of Rev Alexander Fullerton, Methodist minister, and Mary Jane Moffitt. He enrolled at the Carmichael College of Medicine, Aungier Street, Dublin, one of the best private schools of medicine in Ireland, and also at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) where he had a distinguished undergraduate career winning both the prestigious Carmichael Prize (awarded every second year for the student of Irish nationality gaining most marks in aggregate in the subjects of pathology and microbiology) and the Mayne Prize (for the most successful student in his final year in the aggregated subjects of surgery, ophthalmic surgery, medicine, obstetrics and diseases of women, and pathology). He graduated MB, BCh, BAO of the Royal University of Ireland (RUI) in 1890 at the same time as his brother, Andrew.

In 1892 he entered the Indian Medical Service (Bengal Establishment) as a Surgeon Lieutenant taking a high place in the competitive examinations, and was stationed mainly in the United Provinces where he was to distinguish himself in the study, treatment and control of plague. That year he took part in the military operations in Bajour and in Mamand county, later in Utan Khel, Busar receiving the campaign medal and clasp. In 1894-5 he served on the North West Frontier at Waziristan (receiving the medal and clasp) and was promoted Surgeon Captain before taking part in the Malakand campaign of 1897-8 against rebellious Pathan tribesman in the Swat Valley near the Afghanistan frontier with India, a campaign which was the subject of Winston Churchill’s earliest book written when a serving subaltern in the 4th Hussars (The Story of the Malakand Field Force) when Thomas again received a medal and clasp. Finally he was promoted Surgeon Major in 1904 and his name appeared on the Coronation honours list as the recipient of the Kaisar-i-Hind Gold Medal (first class) for public service in India. Always a keen and able surgeon, in 1907 during a short furlough in Ireland he took the Fellowship of the RCSI, but shortly after he returned to India he had the misfortune to prick his finger during a surgical operation and died, of the resultant septicaemia, in Cawnpore on 15 August that year. He had married Margaret Ann Meglaughlin of Gortmerron, Dungannon, County Tyrone in 1893 and had two sons, John Parke and Gordon, each of whom distinguished himself in different regiments of the Indian Army, John Parke, DSO, became a Brigadier in the Degre Regiment, and Gordon, DSO, a Lieutenant-Colonel in the 4th Gurkhas. He was widely mourned not least by his brother Andrew who always kept a framed photograph of Thomas prominently displayed in his home in Belfast.


Born: 31 March 1867
Died: 15 August 1907
Peter Froggatt

RSJ Clarke, A Dictionary of Ulster Doctors (who qualified before 1901) (Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2013, vol.1, p 367-9); Obituary, British Medical Journal, 24 August 1907, p.490); WS Churchill, The Story of the Malakand Field Force (London: Longman’s, 1898); JDH. Willis: The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and its Medical School, 1784-1984 (Dublin: Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Third Edition, 1985, pp 182-3)