d. 1 September 1847

Dobson, who was born in 1773, was descended from 'a younger branch' of an old Westmoreland family. His career in the 'public service' began in 1795. He had entered the Navy as an assistant surgeon at Haslar Hospital in May 1795, and in October of the following year he was appointed to HMS Tickler; in February 1797 he was promoted to full surgeon, and then served on various ships (the Arrow, the Sans Pareil, the Prince of Wales, the Virginie and the Swift) in the West Indies as well as the 'home station'. After this he became surgeon on HMS Lively and was involved in a 'memorable engagement' off Cadiz, when this ship, in conjunction with three other frigates, captured four Spanish galleons with an immense amount of treasure on board. He returned home in 1809 and was appointed surgeon to HMS Trusty, a hospital-ship stationed in the Gillingham reach of the river Medway, on which for 5 years he had charge of 1500 prisoners-of-war of all nations. Dobson apparently displayed 'skill and humanity to the Russian and Danish sailors' and for this was made a Knight of the Orders of St Vladimir of Russia, and Dannebrog of Denmark. These awards were made by the Emperor of Russia and the King of Denmark, respectively, and in addition he was given 'two magnificent diamond rings of the value of £1,000'.

In 1814, he was appointed surgeon to the Royal Marine Infirmary at Chatham and, 10 years later, surgeon to the Royal Hospital, Greenwich. After his time at Chatham, Dobson 'was presented by the officers of the Royal Marines with a valuable service of plate'. It was while he was serving at Greenwich that the Committee of Naval and Military Inquiry sat. Before the recommendation(s) of this Committee could be implemented, however, Dobson had been elevated to the position of physician to Greenwich Hospital on the retirement of Sir William Beatty, FRS (d1842). A minute of the Seamen's Hospital Society dated 29 May 1829 records:

Read a letter from Dr Dobson, Surgeon to the Greenwich Hospital of the 25th inst. offering his services at any time the medical officers of this Hospital may consider a consultation necessary. Ordered that Dr Dobson's offer be accepted with thanks.

His name remained on the list of Consulting Surgeons of the Seamen's Hospital Society until his death. Immediately after his appointment as physician to Greenwich Hospital, Dobson applied to the Admiralty to take charge of the medical as well as the surgical wards. As a result, he was placed in charge of the medical establishment at Greenwich Hospital, the title of physician being abolished. Dobson retired, on full-pay, in June 1844, having completed 49 years in the 'public service'.

He was made a Knight Bachelor on 17 August 1831, and elected FRS on 4 June 1835.
Dobson had occupied the highest office in the Navy except that of Surgeon-General - which at the time of his death on 2 September 1847 was occupied by Sir William Burnett FRS.

He was twice married; first to the second daughter of William Alston of Rochester and, after her death in 1822, to the third daughter of Sir Alexander Purves Bt in 1824.

Dobson died at Gloucester-place on 1 September 1847, at the age of 73 years and on the 9th of that month he was buried 'with due honours' at St Mary's Church, Chatham, having been 'brought from London by a special steam-boat, accompanied by a distinguished circle of private friends'. There were also 'upwards of 30 officers of the Royal Marines' stationed at the entrance of the church gates. 
BirthHe was born in 1773. 
Occupation*He was Doctor of Physic on 23 April 1811 at Rochester, Kent.1 
Marriage*He married Catharine ALSTON, daughter of William ALSTON and Sarah LOADER, on 23 April 1811 at St Nicholas of Myra, Rochester, Kent.1 
OccupationSir Richard DOBSON MD FRS was Doctor of Marines in January 1816 at Chatham, Kent.2 
OccupationHe was Surgeon of the Royal Marines in January 1819 at Chatham, Kent.2 
Marriage*He married (?) PURVES in 1824. 
OccupationSir Richard DOBSON MD FRS was Inspector of Hospitals and Fleets in 1847. 
Death*He died on 1 September 1847.3 
Burial*He was buried on 9 September 1847 at St Mary, Chatham, Kent.3 

Family 1

Catharine ALSTON b. 2 January 1789, d. 1822
Marriage*He married Catharine ALSTON, daughter of William ALSTON and Sarah LOADER, on 23 April 1811 at St Nicholas of Myra, Rochester, Kent.1 

Family 2

Marriage*Sir Richard DOBSON MD FRS married (?) PURVES in 1824. 
Last Edited23 Sep 2007


  1. Microfilm/fiche of Marriage Entries. "Unknown cd."
  2. Baptism Entry, 16th century onwards "unknown cd."
  3. Death Notice,.