Tuesday, January 1, 2013 | By: Rudi Butt

Dr. Alfred Green Gayton Tucker - Surgeon of Hong Kong's First Hospital Ship

Updated (partial) on January 1, 2013

Notable Doctors From the First 100 Years
A Biography of

Alfred Green Gayton Tucker (1843)
Surgeon of Hong Kong’s first hospital ship, HMS Minden

Alfred G.G. Tucker rose from the medical services of the Royal Navy. He was made Assistant Surgeon on July 12, 1832, and served on HMS Impregnable, and then on HMS Vernon from December 12, 1832 and HMS President from July 16, 1834. Tucker was promoted to Surgeon on November 23, 1841 and was appointed to HMS Minden on the 18th of the following month. He came to Hong Kong on board the Minden on June 7, 1843; the battle ship served as a hospital ship in Hong Kong until 1844, whereupon it became the military stationary ship for the China and India Station. Tucker and all the other medical staff were reassigned in June 1844. Tucker suffered from tuberculosis and died on board Minden on October 10, 1845. D.B. Whipple, Assistant Surgeon on HMS Agincourt was promoted to replace Tucker. A majority of Minden's original medical staff was reassigned to HMS Alligator when it arrived in Hong Kong in 1846 to replace Minden as medical ship.

There was a William Guise Tucker who was appointed Chaplain to the Minden in 1836, and was made Chaplain to the Fleet in 1865. He became the Vicar of Ramsay, Essex on April 3, 1881. The Rev. Tucker was born in Hampstead, Devon, the second son of John Tucker and Mary Ann Britton. I wonder if these two were related.

Tucker was one of the founders of the China Medico-Chirurgical Society (CMCS), which was established in Hong Kong in 1845. He was elected President of CMCS at its first general meeting in May 1845. In his inaugural speech, he had put forward the idea of establishing a medical school to train Chinese students. He said, “...one day to see a medical school established at Victoria... It is only by education that we can expect to remove the deep old rooted prejudices of ages, and in what better manner could the pupils educated at the schools instituted for the Chinese be made useful instruments for introducing the Scriptures among their deluded countrymen.” For a non-clergyman, he was quite eager in spreading the good word.

References:
- "Heal the sick" was their motto: the Protestant medical missionaries in China, by Gerald H. Choa
- The Life and Times of Sir Kai Ho Kai, by Gerald H. Choa
- The Navy List, 1834, 1840
- Rootsweb
- Straits Times Monthly Summary, for the month of October, 1845

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