The William B. O'Shaughnessy Archive
a repository of information by and about this
much under appreciated medical, chemical, and electrical pioneer
Image from: Medical Reporter, Calcutta,
5, 204 (1895). More Images
Sir William Brooke O'Shaughnessy, M.D.
(1808-1889): Born in Limerick in October 1808, O'Shaughnessy
graduated from the University of Edinburgh, Medical School in 1829.
He studied forensic toxicology and chemistry in England before joining
the East India Co. in 1833 and moving to Calcutta. He remained in
India for approximately 9 years, where he fulfilled the roles of
surgeon, physician, professor of chemistry and scientist. His first
stint in India were marked by work in the subjects of botanical pharmocology,
chemistry, telegraphy, galvanic electricity, and underwater conduction,
among others. In 1841 he returned to England where he introduced
cannabis sativa to Western medicine and continued his scientific
writings. In 1844 he returned to India where he worked in various
government positions in the fields of pharmocology and assay. During
this period he began work on various telegraph instruments and systems.
After briefly returning to England in 1852, he was appointed Superintedndent
of Telegraphs in 1853. During the years 1853-5 he installed 3500
miles of telegraph across India and wrote numerous manuals and reports
on his telegraph inventions. In 1856, O'Shaughnessy returned to England
where he was knighted by Queen Victoria for his work on the telegraph
in India, he was also appointed Director-General of Telegraphs at
this time. During the following years he wrote on subjects relating
to telegraphy, including a book of Private Codes for encrypted telegraphy.
In 1860 he returned to Europe for sick leave where he remained in
obscurity until his death in January 1889.
Items by O'Shaughnessy
Lancet II, pp. 330-3 (1829-30) Nitric
Lancet II, pp. 633-8 (1829-30) Potassium
Lancet I, pp. 33-5 (1830-1) Thiocyanates, Opium
Lancet II, pp 193-8 (1830-1) Poisons
in Candy Coatings.
Lancet I, pp. 806-9 (1830-1) Copper
in Food Poisonings.
Lancet 1, pp. 366-71 (1831-2) Oxygenized
Salts in Cholera.
Lancet 1, p. 490 (1831-2) letter re. Experiments:
Blood in Cholera.
on Indian Materia Medica, Oct. 6 1838
On the Preparations
of the Indian Hemp, or Gunjah, Transactions of the Medical and
Physical Society of Bengal, 71: 102, pp. 421-61 (1838-40) [This is
the version from Marijuana Medical Papers: 1839-1972]
Newington Report, pp 156-158 (unknown date, mid-1800's) Report
of Cases Detailed by Dr. O'Shaughnessy.
Items about O'Shaughnessy
Lancet I, pp. 158-9 and 188-9 (1854) The
Electric Telegraph in British India. [This is a review of O'Shaughnessy's
The Telegraphic Journal and Electrical Review, p 68 (1-18-1889) O'Shaughnessy's
Proceeds of the Royal Society of London v46, no. 285
(1889) O'Shaughnessy's Obituary.
The Medical Reporter, pp 204-6 (March 1, 1895) Indian
Medical Celebrities: Sir William O'Shaughnessy Brooke by Captain
B.D. Basu, IMS.
If you have articles, books, letters, etc... that you
would like to contribute to the O'Shaughnessy Digital Archive. They
can be scanned and emailed to info<AT>ccrmg<dot>org or
copies can be mailed to:
PO Box 9143