John Beattie Wilson


John Beattie Wilson, 1921–2017
Fellow of the Society and President 1992–1995

John Beattie Wilson (Jack) only son of Frank and Helen Wilson was born in Edinburgh in 1921 and educated at George Watson’s and Edinburgh University where he graduated MBChB in 1943, MD in 1949 and FRCP in 1950. After a short appointment at Leith Hospital he was called up in 1943 and joined the Royal Navy as a probationary surgeon serving on a small destroyer, HMS Saladin, escorting convoys from Milford Haven to Portsmouth. HMS Saladin was involved in Operation Tiger following an attack by German E-Boats on an amphibious landing exercise being undertaken by American troops off Slapton Sands and which resulted in the loss of many Americans. HMS Saladin was on antisubmarine patrol on D-Day.

Jack was transferred to the landing ship HMS Silvio in the Bay of Bengal and following the capture of Rangoon he attended newly released prisoners of war. HMS Silvio was struck by a mine and Jack was transferred to HMS Messina which had a larger hospital. The convoy continued to assault Malaysia and following the atom bomb attack on Japan, sailed unopposed to Singapore and the Andaman Islands to accept the Japanese surrender.

Following the end of the war Jack became resident medical officer at a hospital in Loughborough and met his future wife, Margaret, a theatre sister at the hospital. They were married in Lincoln and subsequently moved to Pitlochry where Jack spent a year as a trainee general practitioner. He and Margaret then settled in Lochmaben, Dumfriesshire, where he established a medical practice which would occupy him for the rest of his working life. There are many records of Jack’s exceptional care and consideration for his patients. Three children followed, Claire, Alastair and Fiona. Jack was predeceased by his daughter Claire in 2015 and wife Margaret in 2017. He was an exemplary father.

Jack devoted much time to the study of medicine and general practice and this was acknowledged in his election as a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh. He was to become a very familiar figure in Lochmaben and engaged readily with the local community becoming a church elder, Chairman of the Community Council, founder member of the Annandale Sailing Club, and panel member of the local group of the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland. At the same time he developed a deep and profound interest in the history of the Royal Burgh of Lochmaben, became a very active member of this Society, becoming its President from 1992–95 and a Fellow of the Society in 1995.

Jack prepared many papers for the Society’s Transactions, listed below. He wrote the definitive history of the Royal Burgh of Lochmaben, first published 1987, and in its second edition, in 2001.

David Rose

Publications in the Transactions of this Society

Vol. 49 (1972), p.98               ‘A Lochmaben Perambulation 1768’

Vol. 49 (1972), p.119             ‘Two Finds from Lochmaben Old Churchyard’

Vol. 49 (1972), p.121             ‘Letters to St Petersburg Written by Dr John Rogerson of Dumcrieff’

Vol. 50 (1973), p.91               ‘Lochmaben Burgh Politics’

Vol. 50 (1973), p.99               ‘Rev. Richard Broun’

Vol. 51 (1975), p.71               ‘Minutes of the Presbytery of Lochmaben 1701–1822’

Vol. 52 (1976-77), p.152        ‘Lochmaben Council Minutes’

Vol. 52 (1976-77), p.177        ‘John Tait's Map of Lochmaben, 1786’

Vol. 53 (1977-78), p.192        ‘Three Eighteenth Century Letters’

Vol. 55 (1980), p.177             ‘Letters from Dr James Mounsey to Dr Henry Baker 1762–70’

Vol. 57 (1982), p.88               ‘The Crannog in the Castle Loch, Lochmaben’

Vol. 59 (1984), p.110             ‘Lieutenant-General William Fergusson, K.C.’

Vol. 62 (1987), p.92               ‘Charge Book of the Burgh of Lochmaben, 1 June 1864 to 6 October 1884’

Vol. 65 (1990), p.84               ‘Royal Burgh of Lochmaben Court and Council Book 1612–1721’

Vol. 68 (1993), p.123             ‘Life in Lochmaben 1612–1721’

Vol. 72 (1997), p.115             ‘Four Annandale Medical Men’

Vol. 72 (1997), p.117             ‘Lochmaben's Sham and Pretended Councils’

Vol. 74 (2000), p.114             ‘Lochmaben Town Council Minutes 1612–1721’

Vol. 76 (2002), p.159             ‘Chartulary of the Burgh of Lochmaben’

Vol. 78 (2004), p.139             ‘A Final Report on the Lochmaben Court and Council Book 1612–1721’

Vol.83 (2009), p.238              ‘Elshieshiels Records’

Vol.86 (2012), p.197              ‘Corncockle Quarry’

Vol.87 (2013), p.195              ‘A Note on the Growing of Flax and the Manufacture of Linen in the Lochmaben Area'

Vol. 90 (2016), p.137             ‘The Lochmaben Bells’

Publications other than in the Transactions

Royal Burgh of Lochmaben, first edition,published 1987, Dinwiddie Grieve Ltd, Dumfries.

The Medical Men and Other Lochmaben Postscripts, published 1992.

Royal Burgh of Lochmaben, second edition published 2001, Solway Offset Dumfries.

Minute by Minute, 300 years of Lochmaben History, published 2004.


J.B. Wilson also published articles in the following:

British Medical Journal, Edinburgh Medical Journal, Scottish Medical Journal, Health Bulletin, Journal of the Scottish History of Medicine, Medical History, Journal of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, The Practitioner, The Lancet, Annandale Herald, Dumfries and Galloway Medical Journal, Scottish Local History Forum, and History Scotland.

Articles by this author