Sir David Barry, M.D., was born 12th March, 1780, in the county of Roscommon. Of his education, general or medical, but little is known. He was early distinguished for his classical and mathematical attainments, and was originally destined for another profession; but he turned to medicine, and on the 6th March, 1806, entered the medical department of the army as assistant-surgeon of the 89 th regiment. After three years’ service in this capacity, he resigned his medical appointment and took an ensign’s commission in the same regiment, then serving in Portugal. He did not continue long in this position, but returned to the medical service, and in February, 1810, was appointed assistant-surgeon of the 58th foot. In this situation, he had to give aid to Field-marshal Beresford when wounded in the battle of Salamanca, and who, ever after, warmly espoused his interests. He was appointed surgeon to the Portuguese forces in March, 1813, and staff-surgeon in the British army in September, 1814. At the close of the war, he was nominated staff-surgeon of the district of Braganza, and resided, for some years in this capacity, at Oporto.
On the breaking out of the revolution in Portugal in 1820, he returned to England, was created doctor of medicine by the university of St. Andrew’s, and on the 22nd June, 1820, was admitted an Extra-Licentiate of the College of Physicians. He proceeded to Paris in 1822, and devoted himself at once to the further study and practice of his profession. Having gone through the necessary curriculum of study there, he graduated doctor of medicine in the university of Paris, 9 th June, 1827, and then returned to England with the design of practising in London. He was admitted a Licentiate of the College of Physicians, 1st October, 1827. In 1828, however, he was sent to Gibraltar to investigate the nature of yellow fever then prevalent in that garrison. He was promoted to the rank of physician to the forces, 5th November, 1829, and in the following year returned to London. In June, 1831, he was sent, in conjunction with Dr. (afterwards Sir William) Russell, to St. Petersburgh, to investigate the nature of cholera then raging there and spreading alarm through every other country. On his return, he was made deputy-inspector-general of hospitals. When cholera appeared in England, he was much employed in its investigation.
For his services he received, the 22nd February, 1832, the honour of knighthood from the king, having been previously invested with the orders of the Tower and Sword of Portugal, and of St. Anne of Russia. In the year 1833, Sir David Barry was appointed one of the commissioners for inquiring into the health of children employed in the British factories, and in 1834, was placed on the Irish commission for investigating the state of the poor and of the medical charities in Ireland. He had but recently returned from this last enquiry, and was still occupied in arranging his voluminous documents on this subject, when he was suddenly cut off on the 4th November, 1836, in his fifty-eighth year, from rupture of an aneurism of the aorta.(1)
Sir David Barry was the author of an original and valuable physiological work:
Experimental Researches on the Influence exercised by Atmospheric Pressure upon the Progression of the Blood in the Veins, upon the function of Absorption, and upon the Prevention and Cure of the Symptoms caused by the Bites of Rabid or Venomous Animals. 8vo. Lond. 1826.
[(1) British and Foreign Medical Review, vol. i, p. 611.]