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Prestonpans and Vicinity

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Distinguished Physicians, Scholars, etc. —Dr Alexander—Sir William Ferguson—Sir William Hamilton—Rev. Dr Calder Macphail—Sir Walter Scott—Alexander Hume the Grammarian—Colonel Campbell, Governor of Guadaloupe—Sir Robert Murray Keith—Sir Basil Keith—Dr Alison—Lord Westhall—Professor Robert Oliver Cunninghain—Professor Dundas Cunningham— Dr James B. Cunningham—William Taylor Brown—Ancient Family Names—John Taylor, Kirk Treasurer, under Carlyle 1741 —Banks and Brown—Lord Fountainhall.

PRESTONPANS has been the birthplace of at least two Physicians highly distinguished in their days. Firstly, the late Thomas Alexander, C. B., Director- General of the Medical Department of the British Army, to whose memory a handsome monument was erected in 1862, in the main street of the town. It consists of a stone statue 8| feet high, and is set on a square stone pedestal 6 1/2 feet high, within an enclosure immediately north of the parish church.
The United Service Gazette of July 1860 says: " The account of Dr Alexander's death was received in his native town of Prestonpans with deep and universal sorrow. The picturesque sea-coast village in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh, where his respected parents and immediate relatives reside, was a never failing source of interest to him; and during the eventful life which he so earnestly devoted to the service of his country, whenever he was relieved from duty, he, with joyous feelings, returned to the home of his boyhood, and with childlike simplicity lived in the midst of his affectionate family, recalling the associations of his early days.
"As in the discharge of his public duty Dr Alexander was always the steady friend and the champion of the soldier, in private he was ever ready with a generous heart and a liberal hand to minister to the necessities of the poor, and many in his native place live to bless his memory.
" His remains were removed to Prestonpans and laid in the family burying-ground, on the 6th inst. The scene was a solemn one: the places of business were closed; the inhabitants following the procession to the grave; and the fishermen —in whom he took a deep interest—gave up their avocations at sea, to enable them to pay a last mark of respect to one whom they were proud to claim as a townsman. His body was lowered into the tomb amid the deepest manifestations of grief—all present feeling that an able man and a true Christian was lost to his country and his friends. "
The following brief sketch tells the story of a truly active and eventful career. It is from the Illustrated London News of 18th July 1860: —"Not only the medical service, but the army and the country at large, have sustained a great loss in the death of Dr Alexander, who has been taken from us in the midst of a career which promised the largest results that could be effected by untiring industry, unswerving honesty, a clear intellect, the highest practical knowledge, and the warmest sympathies with the body over which he was so recently called to preside.
"Thomas Alexander entered the service on the staff in 1834, and proceeded to the West Indies, where he did duty for five years and six months, at the end of which time he came home in charge of invalids. He remained at home only nine months, when he embarked for Nova Scotia, where he did duty till he was removed in August 1846 as Second Class Staff Surgeon to North America, where he served with the Rifle Brigade as Regimental-Assistant-Surgeon, till he embarked for the Cape of Good Hope in 1851, and served with the 60th Rifles for the next two years throughout the Kaffir war. He was principal medical officer of the expedition despatched beyond the Kei, and he was thanked in general orders for his services throughout the war.
" In 1854 he was promoted to the rank of First Class Staff Surgeon, and received orders to join the Turkish expedition. He was in charge of the Light Division under Sir George Brown, and landed at Gallipoli with the first detachment of the expeditionary force, consisting of his old comrades of the Rifle Brigade, and a detachment of Royal Engineers, Sappers and Miners, on the 6th March. With the Light Division he remained to the close of the war.
" At the Alma, his tenderness, his inexhaustible endurance and noble devotion in the most terrible trial to which a surgeon, overwhelmed with calls on his utmost powers, and poorly
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