James Edwin Thompson, first professor of surgery at the University of Texas Medical Branch, was born on May 21, 1863, in Norwich, England, the son of John and Mary (Molyneux) Thompson. After studies at Witton Grammar School, Owens College in Manchester, and at the Manchester School of Medicine, Thompson earned bachelor's degrees in medicine and surgery from the University of London. He received additional postgraduate surgical training in Paris and Vienna, became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons (1886), and served the Manchester Hospital as resident surgeon. In 1891 Thompson moved to the United States and became professor and first chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, remaining in that position until his death. During thirty-six years in Galveston Thompson became one of the country's most distinguished surgeons. He was a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. In 1902 he was vice president of the Texas Medical Association. He was a founding member and first vice president of the American College of Surgeons (1913), president and founder of the Texas Surgical Society (1915), president of the Southern Surgical Association (1920), and fellow and first vice president of the American Surgical Association (1922). In 1925 he received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Baylor University. Thompson contributed more than seventy-five publications to the literature of surgery, dealing with such topics as the diagnosis and treatment of anal fistulae, hepatic cancer, appendicitis, tumors of the face and neck, cleft palate, and kidney malformations. Thompson married Eleanor Waters Roeck of Galveston on May 16, 1896, and they became the parents of four daughters and four sons. All four sons received medical degrees from UTMB. Thompson died in Galveston on April 9, 1927.
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Galveston Daily News, April 9, 10, 1927. The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston: A Seventy-five Year History (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1967). Who Was Who in America, Vol. 1.
Health and Medicine
Physicians and Surgeons
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Chester R. Burns,
“Thompson, James Edwin,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 26, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
August 1, 1995
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