Charles Bisset ~ Surgeon and Military Engineer


Charles Bisset – surgeon and military engineer – born at Glenalbert by Dunkeld in 1717. He was educated at Edinburgh where he studied medicine and from where he received an appointment as second surgeon in the British military hospital facility in Jamaica (1740). Bisset spent five years in the Americas and the West Indies, firstly in the Jamaica military hospital and subsequently as a surgeon with the British fleet. By 1745, he was back in Scotland recovering from illness. A year later as ensign in Lord John Murray’s 42nd Highlanders he saw service at L’Orient (in France) and in the Low Countries (Flanders) where the Duke of Cumberland was leading the British Forces (Austrian Wars of Succession). It was here that he began to make sketches of enemy fortifications; his skill in this area was so great that he was attached to the brigade of engineers from the remainder of the war. Drawing on the knowledge gained during this conflict and his own role within it, Bisset published The Theory and Construction of Fortifications (1751). Bisset then returned to private medicine setting himself up in Yorkshire as well as completing his studies for an MD at St Andrews University. He married Ann who would outlive him by some considerable period. He continued to publish on both medical and military matters:

Treatise on Scurvy (1755)
An Essay on the Medical Constitution of Great Britain (1762)
Medical Essays and Observations (1766)
Permanent and Temporary Fortifications and the Attack and Defence of Temporary Defensive Works (1778)

Charles Bisset died in Yorkshire in 1791.