Thursday, September 5, 2013 | By: Rudi Butt

Dr. Charles Alexander Winchester

Updated September 6, 2013 

Notable Doctors From The First 100 Years
A biography of

Charles Alexander Winchester
Physician-turned-diplomat

Qualifications: M.D., University of Aberdeen, 1841, dissertation on dysentery; Winchester studied at the University of Aberdeen on other subjects from 1836 to 1839. He had some medical training at University of St. Andrews in 1836-7.

A 1884 Winchester letter
sent from Amoy
Charles Alexander Winchester (b. year unknown, Aberdeen - d. July 10, 1883, London) was in the British Royal Navy as an assistant surgeon of HMS Cornwallis (appointed on November 20, 1841). He arrived in China at an opportune time, towards the latter part of the First Opium War, that allowed him to witness the signing of the Treaty of Nanking on August 29, 1842 on board the Cornwallis. Some time before the establishment of the British occupation government on March 31, 1842, Winchester was made the island's first assistant Surgeon. He was appointed to the Committee of Public Health and Cleanliness on August 17, 1843. The committee was headed by Peter Young. On October 19, 1843, he was made surgeon for the British legation in Amoy (Xiamen) and appointed British Consul at the same station in the beginning of 1850s, from there he gave up medicine and became a full time diplomat. The photo on the left shows a 1884 Winchester letter sent from Amoy. Winchester went to Japan in 1862, assuming the position of British Consul in Nagasaki, a year later he became the British Consul in Yokohama. He went back to China in 1865 as the British Council General in Shanghai. A small road that ran down the side of the Bank of China's art-deco warehouse which overlooked Soochow Creek was named after him, the Winchester Road 文极司脱路 (present day Wenanlu in Zhabei District 上海閘北區文安路). He retired in 1871 and left Shanghai for London where he died in 1883.

Winchester was born to Charles Winchester (b.1781-d.unk.) and Margaret Day. Winchester senior was a notary public by profession. He was at one time Clerk to the Commutation Road Trustee of the Town of Aberdeen District. He was a member of the Aberdeen University's General Council, a member of the Society of Advocates in Aberdeen, as well as a prominent member of the Aberdeen Lodge of Freemasons. Winchester's elder brother, James Webster Winchester, had a doctor degree in law. He was at one time the Deputy-Inspector General of Hospital, Indian Medical Services, Bombay (Mumbai); and subsequently Secretary of the Conservative Club in Edinburgh. Winchester was married to Jane Black (b. August 18, 1820 – d. October 11, 1967) who died in Shanghai and was buried at the Shantung Road Cemetery 山東路公墓. Their son, Charles Blake Winchester (b.1852, probably in Amoy – d. unknown), was a barrister, who at one time was the assistant Collector and Magistrate of Bombay.

References:
- The Chinese Repository, Vol.18, from January to December, 1849, Canton: 1849.
- The Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal, Vol.56, 1841, Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black, 1841.
- Edinburgh University Archives [internet].
- Find A Grave [internet].
- French, Paul, The Old Shanghai: A-Z, Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2010.
- The Friend of China, August 17, 1843; October 19, 1843.
- Henderson, John Alexander (Ed.), History of the Society of Advocates in Aberdeen, Aberdeen: Aberdeeen University Press, 1912.
- Naval Database [internet].
- Yokohama Christ Church History [internet].

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