James Carson was born in Ballybay, County Monaghan, Ireland, the son of David J Carson, a merchant, and Martha, daughter of Thomas McMurry, also a merchant.
He received his early education at Campbell College, Belfast, whence he proceeded to the Queen’s University, Belfast, where he graduated with second class honours in June 1930.
He then held house appointments in the Ulster Hospital for Children and Women, Belfast, the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, and Purdys Burn Fever Hospital in Belfast.
In 1934 he went to Vienna and completed his medical education there; and also spent a period working as a ship’s surgeon. In 1936 he was appointed RMO at the City Isolation Hospital and Sanatorium, Leicester, and in 1937 he moved to Manchester as deputy medical superintendent and RMO at Bootle Hospital, beginning a connection with the north west of England which lasted until his death.
In 1941 he was appointed deputy medical superintendent physician at Withington Hospital, Manchester. From 1942 until 1946 he served in the RAMC, obtaining the rank of lieutenant colonel and serving as OC medical division in various military hospitals in India, SEAC and BAOR.
He returned to his post in Manchester in 1946, and in 1950 was appointed consultant physician to the South Cheshire Group of Hospitals, where at first he filled the role of physician, paediatrician, geriatrician and occasional psychiatrist.
He devoted his life to the medical work of South Cheshire and the Manchester Region, giving much of his time to the hospital management committee and to various regional commissions and committees. He played a major part in the establishment of the specialist medical services in an area where none had existed before the National Health Service.
James Carson was a pragmatic and essentially practical physician with great clinical skills. His opinion was widely sought. He gave a great deal of his time to voluntary work within the local community, notably to the St John’s Ambulance Association of which he was chairman of the Crewe Division and was made a serving brother of the Order of St John of Jerusalem in 1969; to his Parish Church of which he was for many years a church warden, and to the Crewe Disablement Advisory Committee, which he served as chairman for many years.
His interests encompassed gardening, at which he was greatly skilled, country pursuits, including beagling, which activity he continued until two or three years before his death, and music and the arts in general.
He had a generous personality and, although a life-long bachelor, enjoyed a special relationship with young people, particularly the children of his many friends and colleagues in whose careers and activities he took an active interest.
He retired in 1972, after having taken a major part in the planning of the new hospital at Leighton, near Crewe, but promptly put himself back to work again; firstly with attachments to the geriatric unit, and fulfilling many appointments as locum for his consultant physician colleagues during their holiday absences, and latterly in developing an occupational health service for the NHS staff within the District. He remained active in this way until very shortly before his death.
[Brit.med.J., 1979, 1, 60]