Dr James Barry (James Barry)

Dr James Barry

British Army Surgeon, Folk Figure. Served in the British Army for 40 years, and upon death was discovered to be a woman.  It was reported in the “Manchester Guardian” on August 21, 1865, that James Barry had entered the British Army in 1813, and had passed through the ranks of Assistant Surgeon and Surgeon in various regiments, and had served all over the world.  He was considered a skillful physician, with “firmness, decision and rapidity in difficult operations.” About 1840, he was promoted to Medical Inspector General of Hospitals, and transferred to Malta.  From Malta, he was transferred to the British Garrison on the island of Corfu (off the Greek coast), where he lived for many years until his death.  He was reported to have fought a duel while a young man in service, and had received medical training as a doctor, acquiring a reputation as a skilled surgeon.  After his death in 1865, many people came forward claiming to have known or suspected James Barry was really a woman.  However, the Count of Las Cases wrote in his book, “Journal of the Private Life and Conversations of the Emperor Napoleon at St. Helena” of an incident that occurred on January 20, 1817:  “I received a visit from one of the captains of our station at St. Helena.  Knowing of the state of my son’s health, he brought a medical gentleman with him.  This was a mark of attention on his part, but the introduction occasioned for some moments a curious misunderstanding…the Doctor, who was presented to me as a boy of 18, [but] with the form, manners and voice of a woman.  But Mr. Barry, such was his name, was described to be an absolute phenomenon.  I was informed that he had obtained his diploma at the age of 13, after the most rigid examination, and that he had performed extraordinary cures at the Cape.” (bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson)  Inscription:Dr. James BarryInspector General of HospitalsDied 26 July 1865.Aged 70 years.


  • January, 01, 1970
  • Ireland


  • July, 07, 1865
  • England


  • Kensal Green Cemetery
  • England

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