Pair to J.G.S.Coghill, Royal Navy,

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Lot 200
Pair to J.G.S.Coghill, Royal Navy,

Sold for £ 960 (US$ 1,222) inc. premium
Pair to J.G.S.Coghill, Royal Navy,
Baltic 1854-55, engraved (John G.S.Coghill, H.M.S. "Conflict"); Serbia, Order of St.Sava, Commander's neck badge in silver-gilt and enamel. Contained in fitted case which includes miniature Baltic Medal, Prize Medal in silver-gilt to him from the University of Edinburgh, Anatomy Class Senior Division Session 1855-6, and other related medals etc. Generally very fine or better. (8)


  • Dr. John Sinclair Coghill was born in Caithness in 1834 and he was educated at the High School and University of Edinburgh. Before completing his medical curriculum, he entered the Royal Navy and served in the Baltic as Surgeon's Mate until the end of the Crimean War, for which he received the medal.

    He resumed his studies at the University of Edinburgh he so distinguished himself that on graduation he became Private Assistant to Sir James Simpson, and lived with that eminent professor of midwifery in that capacity for two years. Then for three years he occupied the post of Demonstrator of Anatomy in the University of Glasgow under Professor Allen Thomson.

    But the adventurous spirit which had taken him into the Navy came between him and that natural progress to higher university honours which might have been anticipated from so promising a beginning. In 1861 he was appointed Municipal Medical Officer of Shanghai and Consulting Physician to the General Hospital there. It was in the early days of the settlement-the days of the Taiping rebellion. Shanghai had been threatened the year before by the rebel forces, and it was not until 1863 that Gordon took over the command of the 'Ever Victorious Army'. So the members of the small English colony saw much of each other and much of Dr. Coghill's charming manner and racy conversation; and many of his warmest friendships dated from the genial intercourse of those early Shanghai days. It was about that time too that Japan opened its interior to Europeans, and Dr. Coghill was one of the first to avail himself of the opportunity of seeing something of that country. Though very successful in practice in Shanghai, the strain of an epidemic of cholera in which he lost his eldest son, the uncertainty of his wife's health-who suffered greatly from ague there-perhaps the recollection of the opportunities he had sacrificed in coming out, ultimately led him back in 1869 to Edinburgh.

    In Edinburgh he was again for a time associated with papers and lectures. During the last illness of his old teacher and friend he filled his place in the lecture room of the University, continuing his interrupted course of lectures to the end of the session. On the death of Sir James Simpson he was an unsuccessful candidate for the Chair of Midwifery, and ultimately commenced to lecture on general pathology and pathological anatomy in the Edinburgh (extramural) Medical School..

    In 1875 he migrated to Ventnor for health's sake, and succeeded Dr. Arthur Hill Hassall as Physician to the Ventnor Consumption Hospital, which had been started a few years before. From this date down to his death Dr. Goghill's energies and abilities had been devoted to the working and development of that institution so far as the energies of a considerable general and consulting practice would allow. Much of its success as a sanatorium for the treatment of consumption had been due to the untiring zeal and the patient and unwearying attention to administrative details which as physician and as chairman of the House Committee of the hospital Dr. Coghill ungrudgingly gave during the past twenty-four years. Wherever the good work of the Ventnor Hospital is known Dr.Coghill's name is associated with it, as is that of Brehmer with Goerbersdorf, and Dettweiler with Falkenstein.

    He was also a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, and a Member of that of London, a Corresponding Fellow of the Gynaecological Society of Boston and a member of the British Medical Association, before which he gave the address in Obstetrics at the annual meeting at Ryde in 1881. He was a frequent contributor of papers to medical journals. His article on the Prevention of Consumption in the February number of the Nineteenth Century was widely read, and was translated into German, and, with his extensive experience at the Ventnor Consumption Hospital, led to his receiving an official invitation to the recent International Tuberculosis Congress held at Berlin.

    But Dr. Coghill was not merely a noteworthy medical man. His mind was a storehouse of information on a wide range of subjects. He was a Fellow of the Scottish Society of Antiquaries, and enthusiastically interested in, and well informed about, most things connected with Scotland. But though nothing if not patriotic, his enthusiasms were not limited to Scotland. The great wall of China, the art treasures of Japan, were as interesting to him as the story of Mary Queen of Scots or the Runic crosses of Iona.

    It was this quality of enthusiasm which was perhaps his most distinguishing trait, which made him the most interesting and amusing of talkers and companions, and a ready and effective speaker in public when occasion required. It arose from a sympathetic and sensitive nature, which lie many of his countrymen, he possessed to a degree often inconvenient for his own mental comfort, but which made him the personal friend of all his patients.

    It was this quality of enthusiasm that made him seem to defy advancing years. Only a year before he died he started a day for consultations in London, making the journey between Ventnor and London usually twice in the day, besides doing an increasing amount of professional work between them.
    His short illness came upon him when he seemed to be in the enjoyment of exceptional health and vigour though, doubtless the wear and tear of the last year had much to do with his sudden and fatal breakdown. He died in 1899, and is buried in Edinburgh.
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