Medicine and Mission – the Blogs

Here is my first official review

Medicine and Mission by Robert Colledge is a biography on the life of Thomas Richardson Colledge, a nineteenth-century pioneering doctor. Amidst other interesting events in Thomas’s life, the book also covers his missionary and clinical work in China. This detailed account has indeed captured the ‘interesting’ times in the life of this unique and endearing personality.

Thomas Richardson Colledge is the great-great-grandfather of the author, Robert Colledge. He was raised in the Northamptonshire Village of Kilsby at the old manor house. He later got married to Caroline Matilda Shillaber. 

The author has left no stones unturned in obtaining Thomas’s history from trustworthy sources. This book gives a recap of Thomas’s time at Rugby school. At the young age of 15 years, he enrolled in the Leicester Infirmary and Fever House where he began receiving medical training. In 1817, he continued his medical training in London where he obtained his certificate of corporation of surgeons. Gradually, Thomas began the journey that eventually led him into the East India Medical Service. How did Thomas fare while in the employ of John Company? How did his relationship with his immediate and extended family turn out? What did his philanthropic work in China accomplish? These are intriguing questions answered in this book.

The quality that stands out in this book is honesty. The author is quite open about his sources of information. Thomas’ history is presented with specific dates, events, and even colorful pictures of places of interest which were illustrated by the author. For me, these pictures were the major highlights of this book. The information in the book is well-organized to prevent confusion. Little details give depth to the story. Some of these are found in the excerpts of writings from Caroline’s school friend, Harriet Low, who seemed to have a crush on Thomas. 

The author does not attempt to portray the main character as a Saint. When speculating about the motives behind Thomas’s letter to his brother, the author did not ascribe purely noble intents to Thomas. After reading this book, I came to new realizations. I understood the probable motives behind collaborations between Medical doctors and missionaries. The excerpts of letters of gratitude from patients who benefited from the free treatments in Macao also lends credence to this book. 

I would rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. I found some typographical errors in the narrative. This is the only dislike I have about this book. However, there is much to learn from the rich life of Thomas Richardson Colledge. Lovers of biographies relating to medical practice in the nineteenth century would find this book quite informative.

This blog entry features the help I received from a local historian in Thomas’s birthplace, Kilsby, Northamptonshire:

Grenville Hatton, a well-known member of the Kilsby community  was a supremely dedicated archivist and researcher into the history of both that Northamptonshire village  and its neighbour,  Barby.  When I set about researching the story of the man whom I am proud to call Kilsby’s most famous son, Thomas Richardson Colledge, Grenville invited me over to KIlsby.  

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