While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Chester R. Burns

THOMPSON, JAMES EDWIN (1863–1927). James Edwin Thompson, first professor of surgery at the University of Texas Medical Branch, was born on May 21, 1863, in Norwich, England, the son of John and Mary (Molyneux) Thompson. After studies at Witton Grammar School, Owens College in Manchester, and at the Manchester School of Medicine, Thompson earned bachelor's degrees in medicine and surgery from the University of London. He received additional postgraduate surgical training in Paris and Vienna, became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons (1886), and served the Manchester Hospital as resident surgeon. In 1891 Thompson moved to the United States and became professor and first chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, remaining in that position until his death. During thirty-six years in Galveston Thompson became one of the country's most distinguished surgeons. He was a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. In 1902 he was vice president of the Texas Medical Association. He was a founding member and first vice president of the American College of Surgeons (1913), president and founder of the Texas Surgical Society (1915), president of the Southern Surgical Association (1920), and fellow and first vice president of the American Surgical Association (1922). In 1925 he received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Baylor University. Thompson contributed more than seventy-five publications to the literature of surgery, dealing with such topics as the diagnosis and treatment of anal fistulae, hepatic cancer, appendicitis, tumors of the face and neck, cleft palate, and kidney malformations. Thompson married Eleanor Waters Roeck of Galveston on May 16, 1896, and they became the parents of four daughters and four sons. All four sons received medical degrees from UTMB. Thompson died in Galveston on April 9, 1927.

Galveston Daily News, April 9, 10, 1927. The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston: A Seventy-five Year History (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1967). Who Was Who in America, Vol. 1.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Chester R. Burns, "THOMPSON, JAMES EDWIN," accessed July 05, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fth21.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...