LONGMORE (Longmoor), GEORGE, physician, army officer, office holder, and landowner; b. c. 1758 in Banffshire, Scotland; d. 9 Aug. 1811 at Quebec, Lower Canada.
George Longmore seems to have come from a family of some means. Probably Scottish Episcopalians – George’s brother Alexander would serve as vicar of Great Baddow, England, from 1779 to 1812 – they appear to have placed a premium on literary values. Longmore attended King’s College, Aberdeen, from which he graduated am in 1778. After studying anatomy, surgery, and the practice of medicine at the University of Edinburgh in 1780 and 1781, he came to North America in the latter year as hospital mate in the medical department of the British army. He served on the general medical staff at New York under John Mervin Nooth*, whom he came to respect as a physician and later as a friend. In November 1783 he was transferred to the province of Quebec and attached to the general medical staff of the army in Trois-Rivières. His first assignment was to attend the growing number of loyalists in Yamachiche and, when they were moved to the Baie des Chaleurs in 1784, Longmore accompanied them. In addition to performing his medical duties, from the summer of 1785 he served as justice of the peace and as secretary to Nicholas Cox*, lieutenant governor of the Gaspé. During Cox’s absence in 1786–87, Longmore acted in his stead. His marriage to Cox’s daughter, Christiana (Christina) Lætitia, probably about this time, confirmed his entry into the lower ranks of the colony’s official society; the couple was to have five sons and five daughters.
In June 1788 the Longmores arrived at Quebec and, as a hospital mate on the general medical staff (which had been transferred there from Trois-Rivières), Longmore renewed contact with Nooth. Quebec provided avenues for private practice and professional advancement. In 1789, now an assistant surgeon, Longmore was appointed to the medical staff of the Hôtel-Dieu. Two years later, with doctors Nooth, John Gould, James Fisher*, and Philippe-Louis-François Badelard, he was questioned by a committee of the Legislative Council on the extent and nature of the Baie-Saint-Paul disease. In March 1795 Longmore, along with Nooth, Fisher, and Frédéric-Guillaume Oliva*, answered questions in the House of Assembly concerning a quarantine bill, then pending. Longmore’s professional status was acknowledged that year by his appointment to the Quebec Medical Board. In 1801 he was named a commissioner for the care of the insane and foundlings.
Longmore considered himself “of an inquisitive . . . not . . . inattentive mind.” It may have been intellectual curiosity or hope of financial gain that led him in June 1796 into a strange agreement with the Roman Catholic priest Pierre-Joseph Compain. Longmore paid £129 immediately and agreed to pay another £400 in two years for a secret cure for cankers, while promising to keep the secret for 10 years. It was agreed as well that, in the event of Longmore’s death during a projected trip to Britain, Nooth would be informed of the cure and allowed to practise it for the profit of Longmore’s family. In the year or two following this agreement Longmore possibly became disenchanted with the effectiveness of the remedy or the profitability of the arrangement. In 1798, following “difficulties” between him and Compain, the second payment of £400 was reduced to £75; Longmore promised not to divulge the cure before Compain’s death and was restricted to practising it on himself and his family.
Longmore was not only intellectually active, he was ambitious. His trip to Britain occurred six months after he had been promoted surgeon in January 1796, and was made in order to obtain the degree of md at King’s College; he achieved his goal on 10 November. While in England he made a modest contribution to the philological collection of Sir Joseph Banks, president of the Royal Society, of letters, in translation, by Saguenay Indians.
Returning to Quebec in 1797 as apothecary to the forces, Longmore was charged with supervising hospital supplies and medicines for all military hospitals and posts in Upper and Lower Canada and with providing basic medical necessities to regimental surgeons. As well, he sat with other senior surgeons as a member of the hospital board. In 1799, together with William Holmes*, surgeon to the forces, and Fisher, he was requested by Lieutenant-General Peter Hunter, commander of the forces in the two Canadas, to report on an outbreak of typhus fever introduced into the port by shipping. Although he shared the prevailing view of his contemporaries that the disease had originated in the foul air below deck, Longmore later distinguished himself by introducing in its treatment a special glass apparatus, designed by Nooth, that dispersed a solution of camphor at regular intervals. Longmore would also have used “oxygen gas” – in what way is not known – but none was available. In May 1800 Longmore and Robert Jones of Montreal were recommended by the Legislative Council to receive; £105 each in recognition of the care they had given to those poor families who had fallen victim to the fever.
Longmore’s readiness to accept new ideas was again shown in his promotion of smallpox vaccination, introduced into Quebec in November 1801 by a young engineer officer, George Thomas Landmann*. Using “cowpox matter” sent to him from England, Longmore began “vaccine inoculation” on 16 April 1802 and personally inoculated nearly 50 patients that year while distributing the vaccine to other doctors. In 1803 he vaccinated free of charge at the Hôtel-Dieu, and published letters and informative articles on the procedure in the Quebec Gazette. Both medical and lay persons began to practise vaccination; in the Gaspé, Theophilus Fox, a justice of the peace, undertook to vaccinate following Longmore’s instructions. Longmore, however, was the only member of the established profession to promote the new method publicly. The Quebec Gazette thanked him “for having . . . come forward” to sanction vaccination despite opposition resulting from fear, ignorance, and quackery, and considered the people “under a strong obligation to that Gentleman, for the liberal manner in which he has met this business.” Attendance at Longmore’s clinic was disappointing, however, and not until 1815 was a public vaccination program attempted.
Longmore had anticipated becoming senior hospital officer and surgeon to the forces, but in 1803 his hopes were dashed by the appointment to that post of James Macaulay*. Furthermore, the position of apothecary was eliminated in a reduction of staff that year. The prospect of half pay, with a “wife and six children to support and educate,” was bleak, but by means of a cleverly worded proposal to the commander-in-chief, Hunter, Longmore secured his reinstatement at full pay. Moreover, in 1805 he was appointed health officer to the port of Quebec, a civil post carrying a stipend of £100 per annum. Its responsibilities in regard to shipping were similar to those he had earlier carried out as apothecary, Longmore also derived an income from private practice and, between 1804 and 1807, by acting as surgeon to the civil branch of the Board of Ordnance at Quebec.
Longmore lived comfortably in the inner circle of Upper Town Quebec society. From his arrival at Quebec he successively occupied houses in excellent neighbourhoods on Rue Saint-Louis, Rue Buade, and Rue Sainte-Anne, and by 1795 he was apparently employing two domestics. As a member of the garrison he shared in the social life centred on the governor’s residence, the Château Saint-Louis. He also participated to some extent in the life of the community apart from his concern for public health; he was a member of the Agriculture Society, founded in 1789, joined in a petition in 1790 for the establishment of a university, and four years later signed a declaration of loyalty to Britain in a context of political tension fomented by agents favourable to the French revolution [see David McLane*]. Although he no doubt benefited from his medical, literary, and administrative abilities, part of his social success was undoubtedly owing to influential contacts, including Nooth, Cox, Hunter, and Henry Caldwell.
Like many of his British contemporaries, Longmore invested much time and money in the acquisition of land for speculative purposes. In the Gaspé he had acquired by 1785 nine town lots (more even than Cox) and at least one park lot, and in 1791 he purchased a 200-acre farm on Bonaventure harbour. He was also caught up in the scramble to obtain land grants in the Eastern Townships. In the early 1790s he petitioned unsuccessfully as leader, according to the system of township leaders and associates [see James Caldwell], for land in Aberdeen and Horton townships Along with Nooth and several other doctors, he was an associate of Hugh Finlay, president of the land committee of the Executive Council, in a petition for 20,000 acres along the west bank of the Rivière Saint-François. In 1803, for his services to Cox in the Gaspé, he was granted more than 11,000 acres in Kingsey Township. He also purchased 5,500 acres in Thetford Township from Nooth and 1,200 acres in Tewkesbury Township. By 1810 he was probably a man of some wealth. That August he left for England on leave of absence, possibly for reasons of health; he returned in early July 1811 and died suddenly, at about age 53, the following month.
Although easily ensconced within the colonial establishment, Longmore had constantly shown genuine concern for the health of the people in general; he had received no remuneration for 22 years’ service at the Hôtel-Dieu, for example, and in 1802 he had cared for sick immigrants without charge. What set him apart from some of his contemporaries, however, was a willingness to innovate. Although formed by the medical tradition of the 18th century, he was ready to adapt to the emerging scientific medicine of the 19th century, and his understanding of the importance of preventive medicine is clear from his campaign in favour of vaccination, which, as he foresaw, would become a universal practice.
Aberdeen Univ. Library (Aberdeen, Scotland), ms K.48. AC, Québec, Testament olographe de George Longmore, 20 Aug. 1811 (see P.-G. Roy, Inv. testaments, 3: 84). ANQ-Q, CE1-61, 11 Aug. 1811; CN1-92, 27 juin 1796, 29 août 1798. BL, Add. mss 11038: ff.6, 11–12 (copies at PAC); 21857: ff.317, 321, 333, 337, 339, 351, 353, 404 (mfm. at PAC). PAC, MG 11, [CO 42] Q, 85:55–56; RG 1, L3L: 41633–34, 61616–82, 73334–37, 73359; RG 4, A1: 10084–99; B43; RG 8, I (C ser.), 30: 57; 200: 65–67; 287: 16–17, 46–49, 72–132, 194, 199–204, 212, 218, 218a, 218b, 219; 372: 36–142; 505: 20–21; 872: 31; 1218: 7, 10; RG 68, General index, 1651–1841. Private arch., K. H. Annett (Sainte-Foy, Qué.), William Vondenvelden, Plan des lots de la ville de New-Carlisle, 1785 (copy). PRO, PRO 30/55, no.8059 (mfm. at PAC). [William Berczy], “William von Moll Berczy,” ANQ Rapport, 1940–41: 39, 42. Gwillim, Diary of Mrs. Simcoe (Robertson; 1911), 265. Quebec Gazette, 29 June 1786; 19 June 1788; 4 Nov. 1790; 18, 19 Aug. 1791; 13 Feb., 10 July 1794; 26 March, 4 May 1795; 30 Sept. 1802; 13 Jan., 11, 18 Aug., 27 Oct., 17 Nov. 1803; 5 April 1804; 4 July, 15 Aug. 1811. William Johnston, Roll of commissioned officers in the medical service of the British army . . . (Aberdeen, 1917). Quebec almanac, 1789; 1804–7. Abbott, Hist. of medicine, 43. M.-J. et G. Ahern, Notes pour l’hist. de la médecine, 377. Andre, William Berczy, 64. Burt, Old prov. of Quebec (1968), 2: 82–85. William Canniff, The medical profession in Upper Canada, 1783–1850 . . . (Toronto, 1894; repr. 1980), 482–84. P.-G. Roy, À travers l’histoire de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Québec (Lévis, Qué., 1939), 191. René Bélanger, “L’abbé Pierre-Joseph Compain, prêtre et médecin, 1740–1806,” Saguenayensia (Chicoutimi, Qué.), 13 (1971): 106–7. M. L. MacDonald, “George Longmore: a new literary ancestor,” Dalhousie Rev., 59 (1979–80): 267. Gabriel Nadeau, “Un savant anglais à Québec à la fin du xviiie siècle: le docteur John-Mervin Nooth,” L’Union médicale du Canada (Montréal), 74 (1945): 49–74. Christian Rioux, “L’hôpital militaire à Québec: 1759–1871,” Canadian Soc. for the Hist. of Medicine, Newsletter (s.l.), April 1981: 16–19. P.-G. Roy, “Le curé Compain et la guérison des chancres,” BRH, 29 (1923): 85–86. W. H. Siebert, “The loyalist settlements on the Gaspé peninsula,” RSC Trans., 3rd ser., 8 (1914), sect.ii: 399–405.
© 1983–2023 University of Toronto/Université Laval
Cite This Article
Barbara Tunis, “LONGMORE, GEORGE,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 5, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed June 1, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/longmore_george_5E.html.
The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:
|Author of Article:||Barbara Tunis|
|Title of Article:||LONGMORE, GEORGE|
|Publication Name:||Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 5|
|Publisher:||University of Toronto/Université Laval|
|Year of publication:||1983|
|Year of revision:||1983|
|Access Date:||June 1, 2023|