Sir James Rognvald Learmonth

Biography of Sir James Rognvald Learmonth

James Learmonth
James Learmonth

Sir James Rognvald Learmonth graduated from the University MB ChB in 1921. He was born in the on 23rd March 1895, son of William and Katherine. His father was the headmaster of Girthon School in Gatehouse of Fleet, Kirkudbrightshire.

Learmonth initially began his studies for a medical degree at the University in the autumn of 1913, but had to put these plans on hold due to the outbreak of war. At the end of his first year he was commissioned in the King’s Own Borderers and served with them in France. After the war ended Leamonth took up his studies again, taking classes in subjects such as Physiology, Midwifery and Clinical Surgery. He had a highly successful academic career, winning various prizes and was also a recipient of the Brunton Medal upon graduating in 1923.

After finishing his studies Learmoth went onto became a Dispensary Surgeon in 1924 at the Western Infirmary. In 1928 he resigned to join staff at the Mayo Clinic as Surgeon and Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery at University of Minnesota. He was later Regius Professor of Surgery at Aberdeen University and then Professor of Systematic Surgery and Regius Professor of Clinical Surgery at Edinburgh University. He performed lumbar sympathectomy on George VI 1949 and was created KCVO. In addition to this, he was surgeon to the monarch in Scotland from 1949-1960. He also served 8 years as an elected representative of the University of Glasgow’s General Council on court from the mid-1950s.

He graduated again from Glasgow, with an Honorary LLD in 1949, one of several such accolades from Universities that included Paris and Strasbourg. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1944, and a Lister medallist in 1951. The State also honoured him with a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1945 and a knighthood, Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO), in 1949, conferred upon him in the bedroom of King George VI, after he had operated upon him.

You can view his entry on the Roll of Honour here.


Sir James Rognvald Learmonth
Born 23 March 1895.
Died 27 September 1967.
University Link: GU Degree: MB ChB , 1921; Medicine,
Occupation categories: doctors
Record last updated: 31st Jan 2017

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