Sir George Ballingall

Military and Royal Surgeon | No 13 

George Ballingall (1780 - 1855) was a minister's son born at Forglen, northwest of Turriff in Aberdeenshire, He was educated at the Universities of St. Andrews and Edinburgh. At Edinburgh, he worked under the noted anatomist Dr. John Barclay and gained his credentials from the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in 1805. He joined the army as an Assistant Surgeon the following year, serving in India, Java and as part of the force which occupied Paris. He retired from the army in 1818.

Ballingall was appointed to the Regius Chair of Military Surgery at the University of Edinburgh in 1822. He argued strongly that military surgery should be maintained as a separate discipline from other branches of surgery, as war wounds needed special techniques. His 'Outlines of Military Surgery' ran to five editions.

He maintained an ongoing interest in the running of the Army Medical Department and was an ardent campaigner for the pay and conditions of army doctors. Appointed Consulting Surgeon to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, he then became Surgeon to the Duke and Duchess of Kent, then Surgeon to the Queen, and was knighted in 1830 by King William IV.

The University of Edinburgh retains a collection of his papers and their Anatomy Museum includes a number of his specimens.

He died on his estate near Blairgowrie in Perthshire. The Chair of Military Surgery was abolished after his death, but he is remembered through Ballingall's Disease, a complaint of the foot.


he is remembered through Balligall's Disease, a complaint of the foot