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Biographical entry Thompson, John Ashburton (1846 - 1915)

31 July 1846
Kensington, England
16 September 1915
South Kensington, England
Physician and Epidemiologist


John Thompson was a medical officer with the Board of Health, New South Wales from 1884-1896 and chief medical officer and president from 1896 until his retirement in 1913. His prize-winning study of leprosy in Australia (1897) won him a world-wide reputation.


Born 31 July 1846. Died 16 September 1915. Educated Guy's and Middlesex hospitals, London (LRCP, MRCS, LM. LSA 1868), the Free University of Brussels (MD 1876 and the University of Cambridge (Diploma in public health 1882). Private practice and work for the Great Northern Railway Co. from 1872, insurance work in New Zealand and several Australian colonies, migrated to Australia 1883, resident surgeon, Hospital for Pacific Islanders, Mackay, Queensland 1884, medical officer, Board of Health, New South Wales 1884-96, chief medical officer and president 1896-1913. special delegate to the Australasian Sanitary Conference, Sydney 1884, member, Government Asylums Inquiry Board 1887, official delegate, International Congress of Hygiene and Demography, London 1891, chair of inquiry into lead poisoning at Broken Hill 1892-93, examiner, University of Sydney 1892-99, chairman, board of examiners to supply trained sanitary inspectors 1900-13.

Published resources

Book Sections

  • Morison, Patricia, 'Thompson, John Ashburton (1846-1915), Medical Officer and Epidemiologist', in John Ritchie (ed.), Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 12, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1990, p. 211. Also available at Details

Online Resources

Rosanne Walker