Thomas Shortt

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Dr Thomas Shortt FRSE FRCPE (17 June 1788 – 1843) was a Scottish physician. He is chiefly remembered for drafting Napoleon's official autopsy report while serving as the Principal Medical Officer on St Helena.

Napoleon 19th century French military leader and politician

Napoleon Bonaparte was a French statesman and military leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. He was Emperor of the French as Napoleon I from 1804 until 1814 and again briefly in 1815 during the Hundred Days. Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won most of these wars and the vast majority of his battles, building a large empire that ruled over much of continental Europe before its final collapse in 1815. He is considered one of the greatest commanders in history, and his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. Napoleon's political and cultural legacy has endured as one of the most celebrated and controversial leaders in human history.

Autopsy surgical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a corpse

An autopsy is a surgical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a corpse by dissection to determine the cause, mode and manner of death or to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present for research or educational purposes.. Autopsies are usually performed by a specialized medical doctor called a pathologist. In most cases, a medical examiner or coroner can determine cause of death and only a small portion of deaths require an autopsy.

Principal Medical Officer is a senior position in the Royal Army Medical Corps, the Royal Canadian Navy, the Army Medical Corps (India) and the Irish Health Service Executive.



54 Queen Street, Edinburgh Queen Street 54, Edinburgh.JPG
54 Queen Street, Edinburgh

Shortt was born near Dumfries on 17 June 1788, the son of Francis Shortt (of Courance & White Laird) and his wife, Bridget Smith. [1]

Dumfries town in Scotland

Dumfries is a market town and former royal burgh within the Dumfries and Galloway council area of Scotland. It is located near the mouth of the River Nith into the Solway Firth. Dumfries is the traditional county town of the historic county of Dumfriesshire. Dumfries is nicknamed Queen of the South. People from Dumfries are known colloquially in the Scots language as Doonhamers. The nickname has also given name to the town's professional football club.

He studied Medicine at the University of Edinburgh graduating MB ChB. He joined the British Army in 1806 as assistant surgeon to the 10th Regiment of Foot. Most of his service was spent in Italy, Sicily, and Egypt. In 1813 he was promoted surgeon to the 20th Light Dragoons and in 1815 Physician to the Forces, before returning to practice in Edinburgh. In 1815 he gained his doctorate (MD) from the University of Edinburgh. [2]

University of Edinburgh public research university in Edinburgh, Scotland

The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1582, is the sixth oldest university in the English-speaking world and one of Scotland's ancient universities. The university has five main campuses in the city of Edinburgh, with many of the buildings in the historic Old Town belonging to the university. The university played an important role in leading Edinburgh to its reputation as a chief intellectual centre during the Age of Enlightenment, and helped give the city the nickname of the Athens of the North.

Italy republic in Southern Europe

Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a European country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps and surrounded by several islands. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean sea and traversed along its length by the Apennines, Italy has a largely temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. The country covers a total area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi), and land area of 294,140 km2 (113,570 sq mi), and shares open land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, and the enclaved microstates of Vatican City and San Marino. Italy has a territorial exclave in Switzerland (Campione) and a maritime exclave in the Tunisian Sea (Lampedusa). With around 60 million inhabitants, Italy is the fourth-most populous member state of the European Union.

Sicily Island in the Mediterranean and region of Italy

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 20 regions of Italy. It is one of the five Italian autonomous regions, in Southern Italy along with surrounding minor islands, officially referred to as Regione Siciliana.

In 1819 he was appointed Physician Extraordinary to the King in Scotland and Principal Medical Officer in St Helena, arriving on St Helena in December 1820, during Napoleon's period of exile there. Shortt never saw Napoleon professionally, but was repeatedly consulted by the other doctors on St Helena.

Physician to the Queen is a title held by physicians of the Medical Household of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. Part of the Royal Household, the Medical Household includes physicians, who treat general conditions, and extra physicians, specialists who are brought in as required.

Saint Helena island in the South Atlantic Ocean

Saint Helena is a volcanic tropical island in the South Atlantic Ocean, 4,000 kilometres (2,500 mi) east of Rio de Janeiro and 1,950 kilometres (1,210 mi) west of the mouth of the Cunene River, which marks the border between Namibia and Angola in southwestern Africa. It is part of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. Saint Helena measures about 16 by 8 kilometres and has a population of 4,534. It was named after Saint Helena of Constantinople.

From 1828 he worked at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. He was then living at 54 Queen Street in Edinburgh's New Town. [3]

New Town, Edinburgh central area of Edinburgh, Scotland

The New Town is a central area of Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. A masterpiece of city planning, it was built in stages between 1767 and around 1850, and retains much of its original neo-classical and Georgian period architecture. Its best known street is Princes Street, facing Edinburgh Castle and the Old Town across the geographical depression of the former Nor Loch. Together with the Old Town, the New Town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.

He died on 5 March 1843.


He married Henrietta Young. they had five children. [4]

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