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Dr Lilian Wemyss GrantSenior Medical Womens Dr
Full name of worker at H.M. Factory Gretna (and any other names they are known by) : Dr L. Wemyss Grant nee Lilian Marie Blong (sometimes Lilian Mary)
Date and Place of Birth: 15 Mar 1873 Calcutta, West Bengal, India
Date and Place of Death: not found yet
Parents: Thomas Joseph Blong (b 1847- d Egypt ) and Henrietta Teresa Machon (b 1846)
Parent’s occupations: Superintendant Police
Schools / universities attended and years of attendance:
1898 Medical school Brussels and Glasgow (M.D. Brux. 1898 L.R.C.P. , L.R.C.S. Ed, L.R.F.P.S Glas 1898)
1942 UK Medical Directory entry
Occupation: 1907 Doctor in India
Doctor at HM Factory Gretna (?-until spring 1918)
Nov 1918 military Doctor in France
Place of residence at Gretna: ?
Job title at Gretna: Senior Medical Woman Doctor In H M factory
Marital status: Married in 1907 in Calcutta to John Wemyss Grant
b 5 Apr 1869 Watten Caithness Scotland
d 11 Jan 1949 Kent England, Bur Wick, Caithness Scotland
Major in the Indian Medical Service
17 Sep 1914 London- Cape Town South Africa
15 Apr 1924 Bombay-Plymouth (with Husband)
10 Dec 1936 Villefranc–sur –Mer, France- New York USA
Trivia / any other information: Wemyss was her husband John’s middle name which he may have used in preference to John. His siblings do not have this name. When she appears in the UK and Ireland medical list it seems to be used like a surname. Entries in 1935, 1940, 1942 when they lived in Kent.
- Books published (Title, year of publication, publisher):
- Books written about the individual or mentioning the individual (Title, year of publication, publisher):
- Blogs about the individual:
- Websites about the individual:
Further links, notes, and comments:
- Baptism 29 Mar 1873 Calcutta ref v143 p195
- Marriage 30 Nov 1907 Calcutta age 34
Lilian Marie Wemyss-Grant nee Blong 1873-1960 Brux M.D. L.R.C.P.,L.R.C.S., Ed.; L.R.F.P.S. Glas.1898
In an era when marriage meant women had to forgo their careers it is even more remarkable that Lilian Marie( Mary) Blong managed to continue her career in medicine, fulfilling several prominent roles during the Great War.
Lilian Marie Blong was born on 15th March 1873 in Calcutta to Thomas Joseph Blong and Henrietta Teresa nee McMahon. Thomas Joseph was of Irish Catholic descent ( RC baptismal records) and was a career soldier. The 1851 census for Wales finds Lilian’s paternal grandfather as a drummer at Brecon Barracks having been born in Ireland. There is no available evidence of Henrietta’s background although her maiden name suggests an Irish background also. Certainly at his death, Thomas was a Major.
Thomas and Henrietta married in Calcutta in 1869.
They had 5 children between 1869 and 1881, 2 daughters and 3 sons. The first to arrive was Henrietta Mabel in 1870 followed by Lilian Marie in March 1873, Thomas Herbert Alexander on 14th November 1874, Herbert Lyle in 1875 and Thomas Frederick on 26th January 1881- all born in Calcutta.
Lilian’s mother died , perhaps in 1881 when Lilian would have been 8. Her father remarried , lived in Cairo, Egypt and had 2 further children with his new wife – Jessie Charlotte nee Stuart. George Robertson was born in Cairo in 1884 and Charles Stuart in 1891 also in Cairo. There is no evidence that Lilian accompanied her father to Egypt.
Thomas died in 1895 leaving Lilian aged 22, fatherless and motherless.
Nothing is known of Lilian’s schooling but there is nothing to suggest that she left India until the first available Medical Directory , 1910 , which gives information regarding her medical qualifications.
“M.D. Brux. 1898; L.R.C.P.,L.R.C.S., Ed.; L.R.F.P.S. Glas.1898.”
She had studied Medicine in Brussels, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
On 30th November 1907, Lilian Marie married John Wemyss Grant in Calcutta. The marriage registration indicates that John is a 38 year old Major in the Indian Medical Service ( I.M.S.) and “Lilian Mary” 34 is a spinster. No recognition is given to her Medical qualifications.
The Indian Medical Service was primarily an Army Department. Further extensive information can be found on Indian Medical Service – Wikipedia.
“IMS officers were given formal military ranks for the first time in 1891,” and John joined the ranks in 1894.
John Wemyss Grant was the son of a Scottish farmer from Caithness, Sutherland., 4 years her senior. Perhaps a gentleman farmer as census records indicate a household comprising of several servants. Medical Directories tell us that John had gained his qualifications at Aberdeen University.
“ M.B.C.M. 1892; D.P.H.1893; Ab. Cert Med..Psych. Ass.S Lt. 23July 1894.S. Capt.23 July 1897. Major . 23 July 1906. Lt-Col, 23 July 1914. S List , 2 Nov .1920. R 5 Oct 1924. K-i-H, 2nd class 23 May 1900. Star of Nipal, 3rd class. Nov 1920N-W Frontier, Chitral,1895, relief of Chitral, medal with clasp.”
He was clearly a well educated and well decorated man. Included is one of the new qualification of D.P.H ( Director of Public Health.)
The John O’ Groat Journal Friday 08 June 1900 reported
“Honour to a Caithness man in India. —We are pleased to notice that decoration of considerable importance has been conferred on Captain John Wemyss Grant, of the Indian Medical Service. The “ Kaiser I. Hind Medal for Public Service in India” is a new Indian decoration created by Royal warrant, dated 11th May, 1900, and designed to reward important and useful services to the Indian Empire, and the advancement of the public interests in that empire. One of the first on whom it has been conferred is Surg.-Captain Grant, who is son of Mr Grant, Biggins, and who joined the Indian Medical Service as Surgeon Lieutenant in 1894. He was appointed to the rank of Surgeon Captain in 1897. He has been recently employed on plague duty Rajpootaoa, and as acknowledgement of his valuable services he is one of four Indian officials on whom this new decoration has been conferred.”
In 1910 the address given for Mrs Lilian Marie Wemyss Grant is C/0Maj. J.Wemyss Grant, I.M.S., Jodhpur, Rajputana, India, no further information.
The 1913 Medical Register rather than directory lists Lilian as Blong and c/o the same address.
There is evidence on a ship’s passenger list that her brothers Herbert and Thomas Frederick are in England in 1912.
The war years are very active professionally for Lilian. We discover from the Medical Directory of 1920 retrospectively what her various roles had been throughout that period.
In 1914 whilst her husband was occupied with the Indian Medical Service, Lilian was in England.
Her first role was that of Medical Administrator, Q.M.A.A.C Hospital, St Leonard’s on Sea followed by a transfer as Medical Controller , Q.M.A.A.C, Southern Command , Salisbury.
By 1917 , the dates are unclear, Lilian was an Assistant Surgeon at the Military Hospital, Endell Street, London. This was a hospital run completely by women. An award winning short film has been made about the hospital entitled “ Deeds not Words: The Suffragette Surgeons of WW1” using original documents and film from the IWM. Deeds Not Words: The Suffragette Surgeons of WWI on Vimeo
The prominent suffragettes behind the hospital were Dr Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Dr Flora Murray. Endell Street Military Hospital – Wikipedia
“ Deeds Not Words” being the adopted suffrage slogan of the hospital. Did Dr Lilian Wemyss Grant acknowledge that she was a married woman, how sympathetic was she to the suffrage movement. “ Deeds not Words” explains that Endell St. treated Suffragette hunger strikers and those injured in rallies before it began filling with injured servicemen.
In May 1918, Lilian is Gazetted in the May supplement to the London Gazette along with Agnes Marshall Cowan to ordnance work. The final piece of Lilian’s wartime jigsaw given in the 1920 Medical Directory tells us that she was Medical Officer, H.M.Factory, Gretna A post that she seemingly took in May 1918.
Whilst serving at HM Factory Gretna she will have worked alongside Agnes Cowan under the overall administrative responsibility of Dr Thomas Goodall Nasmyth. She lived in a house at 19-21 Anzac Road , Gretna according to the Valuation Roll for the period.
We know from the Dumfries and Galloway Standard May 19 1917 that she shook hands with “ their Majesties” on their visit to the Factory as part of their grand tour of Munitions factories in the North. This was in her first couple of weeks in post.
We also read in another local paper of the time that she attended a Red Cross sale at the Borders Hall – this is where we read that she is Dr Wemyss Grant rather than just Dr Grant.
Presumably she went back to India in 1919 as the Factory closed and we certainly discover in the 1925 Medical Directory that she had added to her list of roles. This time as Organising secretary to Lady Chelmsford’s All India League for Maternity And Child welfare , Simla. and was Editor of the quarterly ” Maternity And Child welfare in India” from the first edition in 1921. Her address in 1925 was Viceregal Lodge, Simla, India.
The British Journal of Nursing Supplement, April 2nd , 1921 reports :
“Queen’s interest in Indian Women -Her Majesty has notified Lady Chelmsford of her willingness to act as patroness of Lady Chelmsford‘s “ All India League for Maternity and Child Welfare.” The Queen’s consent has given much gratification in India.
Her brother Herbert was in London in 1920.
On 15th April 1924, Major John Wemyss Grant and Lilian sail into Plymouth from India on “ Dumana”, 1st class. Lilian Marie – wife 48, John, Wemyss, Grant 55 Medical. There is no recognition for Lilian’s professional status.
By the 1930 Medical directory the address given is British Linen Bank, E.C.2 (travelling), London, England.
At age 62 , and now living at The Noke, Broadstairs , Kent, the 1935 Medical Directory lists Mrs Lillian Marie Wemyss Grant as retired. It is not clear when the couple moved to England from India , possibly on John’s retirement in 1929 when he was 60.
Lilian took the opportunity to travel. Passenger listings show her as a Doctor of Medicine aged 60 ( not quite accurate ) sailing from Villefranche -sur-mer near Nice to the Plaza Hotel ,New York on 11th July 1936. We now learn that she is 5ft 7ins tall ( evident from her photograph ) has grey hair and blue eyes.
The 1939 register is the first evidence available of both husband and wife being doctors on the same document. Their address is The Noke Broadstairs. John is listed as Indian Medical Service retired, Lilian is listed as Doctor of Medicine, retired.
The 1939 register for her brother Thomas Frederick lists him as a widower of 175 Cromwell Rd, London, a dock superintendent.
Sister Henrietta was also in London, living at Princes Square Gardens , Bayswater and living on private means.
John died in Broadstairs on 11th January 1949 aged 80. He has a memorial in Wick, Caithness. Probate was to 2 Campbell sisters.
Lilian died on 6th March 1960 Probate “ Grant Lilian Marie otherwise Lilian Marie Wemyss Grant otherwise Lilian Wemyss of 29 Carlton Avenue Broadstairs Kent, widow died 6th March 1960 Probate to James Pratchett commander RN Effects £4892 9s 4d” In 1939, James Patchett was a neighbour.
Henrietta Mabel never married and died in a nursing home in Worthing in 1951, no occupation is evident.
Thomas Herbert Alexander died in Kent in 1946. He had married in Calcutta.
Herbert Lyle sailed to London with his wife. He was head customs appraiser.
Thomas Frederick died in Worthing in 1963.
Half brother George Robertson emigrated to Canada and became a carpenter. He joined the Canadian Forces in 1921.
Half brother Charles Stuart emigrated to Florida in 1925 and became a farmer.
An absolutely fascinating life of an incredible woman.