Iconic doctor’s tomb a picture of neglect

Edward Bulkley was one of the first registered medical practioners in India

June 24, 2016 12:00 am | Updated October 18, 2016 02:16 pm IST - CHENNAI:

Edward Bulkley’s tomb in Ordnance Line may be moved to make way for a transformer. —Photo: Special Arrangement

Edward Bulkley’s tomb in Ordnance Line may be moved to make way for a transformer. —Photo: Special Arrangement

Students and faculty of the Madras Medical College (MMC) have of late been worried over the condition of the tomb of Edward Bulkley, one of the first registered doctors in the country, in Ordnance Line near the institution. They had recently visited the place to create an archive of the institution but returned disappointed after seeing the gross neglect the tomb has been subjected to.

“They were digging at the site to construct a transformer,” said Isaac Christian Moses, dean, MMC, who with some students and faculty visited the monument two days ago. “We went again on Monday and found crowbar marks on it. The engineer told us that they are planning to set up the transformer. The workers might have attempted to move the tomb,” he said.

On August 28, 1693, Dr. Edward Bulkley performed the first medico-legal autopsy in modern India, said V. Sriram, historian and heritage activist.

“James Wheeler, a member-in-council, died after being treated by another doctor Browne. The latter later discovered, much to his shock, that his servant had made the medicine in a vessel used for arsenic. Dr. Bulkley conducted the post-mortem and the two were tried,” he said. He also issued the first injury and medical certificate which cited illness as a cause of inability to work, he added.

In 1714, Dr. Bulkley died and was buried in the garden of his house that was later converted into a quarters for defence personnel. The tomb stands isolated inside Ordnance Line, opposite MMC, at the intersection of Poonamallee High Road and Evening Bazaar Road.

“His contribution is of immense importance to the medical world. We want his memory to be preserved,” said N.G. Suganth a final-year postgraduate student.

While officials from the Department of Archaeology were unavailable for comment, officials from the Ministry of Defence said that they will ensure that the tomb is not damaged.

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