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Most historians could tell you about Britains first woman doctor Elizabeth Garrett Anderson With her determination and courage to challenge the medical profession she carved the way for many women in the medical field But what many historians dont know is the facts and story behind whom was actually the truly first woman doctor of England Dr James Barry enjoyed a high reputation as a skilled surgeon for over fifty years The following excerpt from The Manchester Guardian in August of 1865 tells of his accomplishments Dr Barry enjoyed a reputation for considerable skill in his profession especially for firmness decision and in rapidity in difficult operations The gentleman entered the army in 1813 passed through grades of assistant surgeon and surgeon in various regiments His professional accomplishments promoted him to the staff at the Cape In 1840 he was promoted to medical inspector and transferred to Malta He proceeded from Malta to Corfu were he was quartered for many yearsHe died there and upon his death was discovered to be a woman When an autopsy revealed that Barry was a woman the war department and the medical association was so embarrassed that they hid their findings and Dr Barry was buried officially as a man By order of the British War Office not one London paper covered the news of Dr Barrys death It could have been a major scandal Who could imagine that the armys most distinguished surgeons with a rank equal to major general had been a woman - and no one ever discovered her identity Not a lot was known about the early life of this woman until 1950 when author Isabel Rae convinced the British War Office and the University of Edinburgh to let her see their Barry Papers It seems that Dr Barry got her name from a man she called Uncle James Barry RA He was an Irish painter This is where his nephews
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