The Donors of St George’s: Frederick James Halliday (1806-1901)

The Archives and Special Collections at SGUL are part of the Race Equality Action and Engagement Group (REAEG), and are examining the historical legacies of slavery and colonialism at St George’s as part of the institution-wide equality and diversity initiatives. The on-going research into the historical subscribers, funders and donors of St George’s is part of the project to reveal these links. For more information about the hundreds of donors, see the Archives catalogue.

Front cover of Annual Report of St George's Hospital, which documented the subscribers and donors
Archives and Special Collections, St George’s, University of London. 1895. ‘Annual report of St George’s Hospital, and of Atkinson Morley’s Convalescent Hospital, For the Benefit of Poor Patients from St George’s Hospital, For the year 1894, with A List of the Governors & Subscribers and Statement of Receipts and Expenditure’. link

Frederick James Halliday was one of these donors. This blog post has been written by Information Assistant Arianna Koffler-Sluijter.

Frederick James Halliday attended the East India College, a school designed to train administrators for the East India Company, before joining the Bengal civil service in 1824. He also attended Fort William College, an academy of ‘oriental studies’ which was aimed at training administrators in various languages in Calcutta. He worked his way up the civil service by starting as an assistant working for the Supreme Court in 1825, before becoming a secretary to the Board of Revenue by 1836 and then Home Secretary for the Government of India in 1849. He travelled back to England to provide information to Parliament between 1852 and 1853. After his return, in 1854, he was appointed the first Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal by the East India Company.

Portrait of Sir Halliday, picture taken from
Wikipedia (“Frederick James Halliday”) link

The East India Company was the vessel for British imperialism in India from the early 18th century to the mid-19th century. The company began by trading in spices from the East Indies from the 17th century. After defeating Portugal in India in 1612, who had the previous monopoly, the EIC traded in cotton, silk, indigo, saltpetre and spices from South India. It started trading and using slaves from the 1620s, and this lasted until the 1770s. The EIC started to control Bengal in 1757 and became the base for British expansion. The Regulating Act 1773 and William Pitt the Younger Act 1784 gave Parliament commercial and political control of India so from 1834 the EIC was the body that managed India as a British colony. After the major rebellion of 1857, rule of India was transferred to the Crown through the Company until it shut down in 1873. British rule lasted until India gained its independence in 1947.

Before Halliday’s appointment, Bengal had previously been overseen by a Governor-General but the post of Lieutenant-Governor was created by the Marquess of Dalhousie when the East India Company’s charter was renewed as it was noted that Bengal needed a different administrative approach. From 1833, the Governor-General of India was also the Governor-General of Bengal, and due to territorial acquisitions, the Governor-General was often away from the region, and thus this change in the structure of the role was hoped to improve the situation. Through his appointment, he resided in Belvedere House, which had formerly housed Warren Hastings, the first Governor of the Presidency of Fort William (Bengal) and the first Governor-General of Bengal. Belvedere is a 30-acre estate where the National Library of India is now housed.

As Lieutenant-Governor, he was responsible for the building of numerous roads and the construction of the East Indian Railway, which enabled better communication for the East India Company. The Railway route was planned to run from Calcutta to Rajmahal in 1849, which would later be extended to Delhi via Mirzapur and so the Railway Company acquired much land for this. British shareholders made immense profits from railways across India, whilst the works were paid for exclusively by Indian taxes. The railways were primarily used to move natural resources (coal, iron ore, cotton, etc.) so that they may be shipped back to Britain. The first passenger train ran from Bombay to Thane in 1853. The vast number of employees of the railways were European. Due to legislation in 1912, it was unviable for Indian trains to be manufactured or even designed, so between 1854 and 1947, India imported 14,700 trains from England, Canada, America and Germany. Due to this combination of factors, the railways, including the East Indian Railway company, did little to benefit Indian people and actively harmed their economy.

He also introduced the Calcutta Municipal Act, which included increased pay for the police, and increased supervision of the justice system. This was to help supress the disturbance of active resistance to British rule by creating a military police force as well as adding more officials to the justice system to help with its efficiency. The justice system of the British Raj was far from fair and equal, as, for example, thousands of murders of Indian people by English settlers went unpunished, with only three successful prosecutions. To a large extent, Bengal was not involved in the Indian Rebellion of 1857, which saw a mass revolt and mutiny against British sovereignty in India, but Halliday provided advice to Lord Canning, the Governor-General of India, to reduce civil unrest. Alongside these administrative reforms, Halliday sought social change and enforced anti-sati legislation; sati being the ritual burning of a widow. He was also involved in the Widow Remarriage Act, and improving educational opportunities through the establishment of a director of public instruction and the University of Calcutta.

Halliday left the position of lieutenant-governor in 1859, and was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1860. From 1868 to 1886, he was a member of the Council of India, a group of 15 members who advised the Secretary of State for India in London.

section of Annual Report of St George's that displays Sir Halliday's donation
Archives and Special Collections, St George’s, University of London. 1895. ‘Annual report of St George’s Hospital, and of Atkinson Morley’s Convalescent Hospital, For the Benefit of Poor Patients from St George’s Hospital, For the year 1894, with A List of the Governors & Subscribers and Statement of Receipts and Expenditure’. link

Halliday donated £3 and 3 shillings to St George’s in 1882, which is roughly £300 in today’s currency. He died in 1901.


Summer Holiday Library Update

Photo by Kent Pilcher on Unsplash

While summer has very definitely arrived in the last few weeks, we wanted to remind our users that the library and library staff are still here throughout this period to help with any study and information needs you have – whether in person or remotely.

For those staying close to St George’s, the library will be open every day over the summer – from 8am to 11pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 9pm at weekends. (24/7 opening will return on 3rd October.) And as always, library staff will be onsite to help between 8am and 6pm every weekday.

But no matter where you’re spending the summer, our online resources and other services can help you stay on top of your studies when you need to. Read our post below for a few suggestions.

1. Find e-books in Hunter

Forgot to borrow a book from the library before leaving St George’s for the summer? Don’t panic! With over 5000 e-books now in our collection, it’s increasingly likely that you’ll be able to find something relevant in Hunter that you can access from anywhere.

To find and access e-books in Hunter:

  1. Choose Books and more in the dropdown menu before searching.
  2. Select Online resources from the options on the left to narrow your search results to e-books only.
  3. All our e-books have a Full text available link – click here to see access options.

You’ll need your St George’s username and password to access online resources, including e-books. To reset a forgotten or expired password, see below.

Reset your St George’s password…

…using this link. Please note, you’ll need to have registered an alternate email address to use the link. If you haven’t done this previously, email to set one up.

If you’ve registered an alternate address but still can’t reset your password, email

2. Discover online learning tools

Your St George’s login also gives you access to our growing collection of online learning tools, many of which use video, quizzes and other features to keep your learning interactive. Below we’ve highlighted one of our newer resources, but you can view a full list here.

St George’s students have full access to JoVE Science Education resources

JoVE Science Education helps you recap topics in basic and advanced biology, chemistry, clinical skills and more through an extensive collection of video lessons. Click here to sign in with your St George’s username and password.

Also included in our subscription is access to JoVE Core, a collection of video textbooks that use animation to teach molecular and cell biology, statistics and more; and JoVE Lab Manuals in biology and chemistry.

3. Study at other university libraries

After a long break, the SCONUL Access Scheme has returned, allowing St George’s students reference access to over 150 university libraries across the UK and Ireland. (Postgraduate students may also get limited borrowing rights at some libraries.)

To start using the scheme, visit the SCONUL Access website where you can register your details and check whether the library you’d like to visit is participating. Within a few days, and provided your library account is in good standing, we’ll send you a confirmation email. Take this email, along with your St George’s ID, to your chosen library to apply for access.

Streamlined access to e-books: Oxford Academic

All our e-book products from OUP – Oxford Medicine, Oxford Scholarship and Oxford Clinical Psychology – have been migrated to a single platform called Oxford Academic.  This means that all our electronic textbooks that begin Oxford Handbook of… or Oxford Textbook of… can now be navigated and viewed using this single platform, rather than multiple products that all look slightly different.  This platform also includes a range of titles that we have purchased from other publishers, plus some of our journals. 

While we encourage you to continue to use your reading lists to link to e-books that your tutors highlight, or search Hunter to find the e-books that we subscribe to, once you get to Oxford Academic there is a lot you can do.  Find out more from our e-books guide, or ask your liaison librarian.

Upcoming Training Sessions

It may be the summer holidays but that does not mean we are going to stop offering a variety of library skills training sessions for you! We have a range of sessions suitable no matter your level of expertise – whether you are a student, academic, or NHS staff we have something for you. However, if you require something a bit more in-depth or you have any burning questions, just email us:

For a full up-to-date list of our training sessions, and to register, visit our SGUL Library LibCal. The links below will also direct you to the booking form in addition to providing full details on the session.

Two students are sat around a table and one of them has a laptop open. A third student is standing up pointing to a whiteboard next to her.

Training sessions for NHS staff

Introduction to UpToDate (with Wolters Kluwer Health)

UpToDate’s aim is to support healthcare professionals to make evidence-based clinical decisions at the point of care. Available to all St George’s Trust staff, UpToDate’s coverage includes 9,300 graded evidence-based recommendations and 6,500 drug entries. Come along to this 30-minute session to get you started with UpToDate and find about its main features.
Wednesday 17 August 2022, 13:00-13:30 (online)
Wednesday 21 September 2022, 13:00-13:30 (online)

Training sessions for all NHS users

Finding the Evidence

Finding top-quality evidence is a priority for health care practitioners. This session will introduce the high-quality resources available to you, as well as provide training in how to use them effectively to support evidence-based clinical practice or decision-making.
Wednesday 10 August 2022, 12:00-13:30 (online)
Monday 22 August 2022, 11:30-13:00 (in-person)
Thursday 1 September 2022, 13:30-15:00 (online)
Tuesday 13 September 2022, 12:30-14:00 (online)

NHS Library Induction

Library induction for NHS staff, introducing you to the range of services and resources on offer to those working for St George’s Hospital, Queen Mary’s Hospital and other community-based sites.
Tuesday 16 August 2022, 12:30-13:00 (in-person)
Friday 9 September 2022, 11:30-12:00 (online)

Training sessions for everyone

Systematic Reviews: finding and managing the evidence

This in-person course, based onsite in the Library Training Room, will focus on in-depth literature searching for systematic reviewers and how to manage your results. It will provide you with an overview of the systematic review process, the know-how of creating effective search strategies, systematic searching of the literature, managing your results and documenting the search process.
Wednesday 17 August 2022, 10:00-12:00 (in-person)
Tuesday 20 September 2022, 11:00-13:00 (online)

More Books – Help us to choose new books for the library

St George’s Library would like to invite all library members to put forward their suggestions for new books to add to our shelves. Whether it is medical and healthcare text books or popular science we are open to all ideas that may enhance our collection. Please complete this form between now and Friday 27th May. Or come along to the library foyer from the 18th May to the 27th May between 12pm and 1pm to complete a book suggestion form.  We will review all requests and decide what to buy on the basis of what is most in demand and most likely to benefit the collection and our library users!

NICE closing selected evidence websites

On 31 March, selected evidence services currently provided by NICE, will be closed down.

The following sites will no longer be available after Thursday 31 March, 2022:

Many of the services provided by these outgoing sites will be replaced by the HEE funded NHS Knowledge and Library Hub

The new hub provides a simple option for NHS staff to search all knowledge and library resources in one place. The hub also links to a new journals library, to key healthcare databases for in-depth searching (hosted by provider websites such as EbscoHost, Ovid and Proquest), and to other key resources such as BMJ Best Practice and UpToDate.

NICE will still host the NHS OpenAthens site which provides authentication for NHS resources.  

NHS staff can visit our NHS LibGuides or our NHS webpages to find out more about these changes, or get in touch at with any questions.

St George’s Careers Week 2022: 7th-11th March 

This year’s Careers Week runs from Monday 7th March to Friday 11th March. The theme is ‘Fulfilling Futures’ and features a series of virtual activities to support your career planning in 2022 and beyond.  

Join us to hear from an exciting range of speakers and recent alumni, take part in workshops designed to help you find your own fulfilling future, and grab a cake on campus with the Careers and Alumni teams!  

Stay in the loop by registering for updates HERE.  

Activities include: 

Monday 7th March at 11.00am-2.00pm: Careers and cake drop-in (library breakout area) 

Meet the Careers team and guests, eat a cake, pick up careers information and have a chat about your career questions on concerns.  

Tuesday 8th March at 12.30pm-2.00pm: Emerging New Technology Careers in Healthcare (virtual event on MS Teams – join HERE) 

Technology is transforming healthcare, from treatments and training to the patient experience. Join us to hear from speakers in healthcare start-ups, using technology like VR, AI and wearable tech to improve patients’ lives and wellbeing.  

Learn about career entry routes into start-ups and live job opportunities for science and health graduates, so you can be part of this evolution! 

Wednesday 9th March at 5.00pm-6.30pm: Surviving and Thriving – from uni to work (virtual event on MS Teams – join HERE) 

You’ve told us that making the transition from university to the workplace can often be daunting, and you want to be better prepared to bridge this gap. Hear from a panel of recent graduates sharing their tips and experiences on making the switch from student to professional – offering personal stories, strategies and insights to bring you confidence and calm in finding or settling into your new job.  

Thursday 10th March at 1.00pm-2.30pm: Values for Career Choice and Wellbeing BIG READ event (virtual event – join HERE) 

Understanding our values (the things we believe our important in the way we live and work) is crucial to helping us make the right choices for a fulfilling future. Join the SGUL Careers and Counselling teams to learn ways to help you identify your values for career choice and wellbeing, and get tips on channelling your values to help you overcome the everyday mental challenges we face in in our work, study and lives.  

Friday 11th March at 12.00pm-1.00pm: Networking to explore and test your career ideas (virtual event – join HERE) 

Grow your confidence with networking as a tool for exploring your career options and gaining insights into a job or organisation to decide if they are a good fit for your values and interests. We’ll also cover ways to find and approach people in jobs of interest and use LinkedIn and social media to support career goals.  

You can find out more about Careers Week on the Careers Service pages on Canvas.  

Register for more information and updates HERE or contact the Careers Service on  

The Strange History of Mary Ann Talbot

For LGBTQ+ month, we are featuring the story of Mary Ann(e) Talbot, or John Taylor, a patient at St George’s around 1800, who was known as a cross-dressing soldier. We don’t know how they identified themselves, but their story is often featured as part of transgender history. This blogpost was written by St George’s Archivist, Dr Juulia Ahvensalmi.

In 1906, St George’s Hospital Gazette, newsletter for the staff and students of the hospital and the medical school published between 1892 and 1974, included an article titled ‘The Strange History of Mary Ann Talbot’. The article detailed the life of Mary Ann (or Mary Anne) Talbot, also known as John Taylor, who was a patient at St George’s around 1800, and was based on Talbot’s autobiography, initially published in Kirby’s Wonderful and Scientific Museum: Or, Magazine of Remarkable Characters in 1804.

‘Mary Anne Talbot, a woman who passed as a male soldier and sailor. Engraving by G. Scott, 1804’. Wellcome Collection.

In the Gazette article, her life is briefly sketched from her birth at Lincoln’s Inn Fields in 1778, being orphaned and taken under the guardianship of a Mr Sucker aged 16, leading to the events that were to determine the rest of her life:

‘Here, she became acquainted with a Captain Essex Bowen, whom she accompanied to London, and by whom shortly afterwards, under threat of being deserted, she was induced to assume the dress of a drummer-boy and the name of John Taylor, and to accompany his regiment to the West Indies.

After suffering many hardships there, the regiment was ordered to Spain, and in the siege of Valenciennes, her evil genius, Captain Bowen, was killed and she herself received two slight wounds which were cured without medical aid ‘by the assistance of a little basilican, lint, and a few Dutch drops’

There is a lot packed in those two paragraphs. ‘Accompanied’? ‘Induced to assume’? ‘Her evil genius’? From this account, it is unclear how much agency she had over the events.

(As a little aside on the medication: in traditional Indian Auyrvedan medicine, the so-called ‘holy basil’ or tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum or Ocimum sanctum) has been used for various medical complaints, including to treat insect and snake bites; this is separate from the variety used as a culinary herb. ‘Lint’ is a surgical dressing, and ‘Dutch drops’ refer to an ointment made from oil of turpentine or a tincture of guaiagum (rather than Dutch liquorice), chiefly used as a diuretic, but also for dressing wounds.)

The article goes on to describe her desertion from the regiment, travelling on foot through France, employment by a French privateer (essentially a pirate sanctioned by a government), capture and work as a ‘powder-monkey’, manning the naval artillery guns on a British war ship, a job in which she is severely wounded. After her recovery, she takes part in Sir Sidney Smith’s expedition during the Napoleonic Wars, is imprisoned in France for 18 months where she ‘incidentally learned to weave gold wire from a fellow prisoner’.

‘The Strange History of Mary Ann Talbot’ by W.F.B. [unknown author]. St George’s Hospital Gazette 1906, Vol XIV Issue 3, pp. 57-60. Archives and Special Collections, St George’s, University of London.

A prisoner exchange between the countries enables her to take up on an offer at Calais to travel to New York on an American merchant ship, overseeing the cargo. We are told that the skipper’s niece fell in love with her, ‘and at parting an affecting scene is related to have taken place between them, probably with little regard for the truth’ (that is the one bit the writer finds unbelievable in the whole story?).

Back in England, she escapes ‘the dangers of a press-gang’ (the capture of men into the military or navy by compulsion) by revealing her gender. She continues to wear men’s clothes, however, despite a strict court order telling her to ‘break … the masculine habit’, and in her autobiography she notes that she ‘frequently dressed .. and took excursions as a sailor’.

After this, it seems her life went from bad to worse. Disabled by her wounds, she was also said to have acquired ‘habits of intemperance’ during her naval career. After a spell at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, she turns to jewellery-making, the skill she had learned in the French prison, but after her wounds begin to suppurate she seeks help from St George’s Hospital. Her stay at St George’s lasts seven months, a time of ‘tedious confinement’ under the supervision of surgeons Robert Keate and John Griffiths.

St. George’s Hospital, Hyde Park Corner. Engraving (Wilkins, William, 1778-1839); and ‘London slums, Gustave Dore. Wellcome Collection.

Prior to the introduction of the NHS in 1948, St George’s was a charity hospital, with few conveniences and luxuries beyond the strictly medical attention given to the patients. Despite its location at Hyde Park Corner, most of the patients came from the nearby slums of Westminster and Soho. Saving measures at the hospital at this time led to cheese and butter being removed from patients’ diet, to be replaced with milk porridge or gruel.

Social work at the hospital was conducted by volunteers under the umbrella of the Almoners, who provided guidance and assistance to patients. Mary Ann Talbot’s own account names Emma Raynes, who, besides attending to her whilst she was confined in her hospital bed, supported her and helped her find lodgings after being discharged.

She also notes that students took part in providing for her stay, and that she ‘procured some little necessaries from a subscription made by the young gentlemen pupils who attended the hospital’.

Not all of her encounters with the students were pleasant, however. She recounts how one of these students, called Saife or Scaife

‘(I imagine) in joke, offered me half-a-crown a week while I lived to have my body when dead. However he might mean it I knew not, but it procured such an aversion to physic in me that while I remained under care I would take no more medicine, fearing it would hasten my death; and I remarked my wound healed faster than before’

‘Saife’ was probably James Safe, who enrolled as a pupil at St George’s in 1798, and who, according to St George’s student records and the records of the Medical Officers of the Malta Garrison, became an army surgeon, and died at Trinidad in 1817. His widow Eliza appears in the Legacies of British Slavery database as a beneficiary of compensation awarded for the enslaved people on an estate in Trinidad in 1835.

Entry for James Safe in the student register, pupil under Robert Keate in 1798. Register of Pupils and House Officers 1756-1837, SGHMS/4/1/16. Archives and Special Collections, St George’s, University of London.

He may not have been exactly joking, either, when he offered money for Mary Ann’s body after her death: the supply of cadavers for students was meagre, but they were required for anatomy lessons. The only legal source for bodies in medical schools was from executed criminals (since the 1752 Murder Act), which led to short supply in anatomy schools and the proliferation of bodysnatching. William Burke and William Hare famously even resorted to murdering people to keep up with the demand in 19th century Edinburgh.

It was not until 1832 that the Anatomy Act decreed that the ‘unclaimed’ bodies of paupers, who had died in institutions such as hospitals or workhouses, could be used for dissection.

Dissection room at St George’s, 1860 with students and staff, including Henry Gray, author of Gray’s Anatomy. Archives and Special Collections, St George’s, University of London.

Mary Ann was, however, did not end up in the St George’s dissection room. Her life following her successful discharge from the hospital appears to have been similarly colourful, varying from being sued for wearing hair powder (which was heavily taxed and required a specifically bought licence) to confronting her former guardian to a tragic story of her child minders drowning her baby (the first time the baby is mentioned!). Queen Caroline was said to have felt so sorry for her that she was given an annual grant of £50. She was said to have become an actress, before falling into ‘squalid and vicious poverty’.

The article in the Gazette ends, rather piously, with

‘In what manner and place Mary Ann Talbot met her death the writer has been unable to ascertain, but it is probable that both were such as would be amply sufficient to deter any other ‘lady’ from following her example’

Life for a disabled woman in 19th century London was not easy. Mary Ann’s life story was her only currency, and this was what she was attempting to use when she recounted her life to Robert S. Kirby for his magazine popular for its stories of unusual characters and ‘freaks’.

She had lived in Kirby’s household for several years prior to this as a servant, and is in several sources stated to have had a long-term ‘female companion’, although we know nothing of her identity. Mary Ann notes in the account that she was supported whilst imprisoned by ‘the constant attention of a female who lived with me some time previous to my being arrested … she has remained a constant friend in every change that I have since experienced’.

After her death only a few years later, in 1808, Kirby published a fuller account of her life, titled ‘The Life and Surprising Adventures of Mary Anne Talbot in the name of John Taylor, A Natural Daughter of the Late Earl Talbot’. She was 30 years old when she died.

‘The Life and Surprising Adventures of Mary Ann Talbot, in the name of John Taylor’. Printed for R.S. Kirby, 1809. Source: Digital Commons, University of Nebraska.

But was her story true? The records do not stack up, according to some researchers, although others argue that even if the details are not presented entirely accurately, the story as a whole might still have some factual basis. Whether or not the story was fabricated, or partly so, it certainly roused the interest of her contemporaries – and still continues to stir debate.

Want to find out more about St George’s history and archives? Check out our website or email us

Festive feedback

Thank you to everyone who added their comments to the Festive Feedback Tree that was located in the library during December 2021. We enjoyed reading your comments about the service, and your wishes and hopes for the new year.

You said – our response

More fiction and non-science related books . . . . just because we are a healthcare uni, doesn’t mean books can’t help us grow”

Due to space limitations, it is not possible to dramatically increase the size of the fiction collection. However, we have a collection of general fiction, LGBTQ+, and Black History titles, and are happy to receive specific book suggestions to add to our ‘reading for pleasure’ section.

No wobbly tables”

We are sorry to hear about the wobbly tables. We will be undertaking checks to ensure all the tables are stable.

“More group study room please!”

We know the group discussion rooms are popular, and are currently exploring options for increasing the number of these.

“Can we have study break passes for longer than 30mins”

Study space is at a premium at certain times of the year. Reserving spaces for longer than 30mins means others are potentially denied a space. 30mins is enough time to have a comfort break and grab something to eat.

“We love our Library – please bring back the blankets”

Please bring back the blankets”

During the COVID pandemic, the sharing of blankets was seen as a transmission risk, and removing them was the responsible thing to do. We keep this in constant review, and we hope to bring them back in due course.

Sign up to one of our free skills sessions

Did you know that alongside sessions built into the curriculum, the library offers a rolling programme of open skills sessions you can sign-up to to help you make the most of library resources?

Our courses, still currently online, range from focusing on key databases such as Medline and CINAHL to find health literature to support your learning, assignments, dissertations, practice or research, to use of specialist resources such as RefWorks to help you manage your references. You can learn in-depth advanced search techniques to underpin systematic reviews and, new for 2022, we are offering sessions on the Web of Science platform which, uniquely, provides a range of multi-disciplinary searchable citation indexes- ideal for researchers wishing to track literature in their fields.

All these databases, and more, are available through our A-Z databases page, via NHS OpenAthens accounts for our NHS members or network logins for University members; targetted sessions are available for all our key audiences including NHS staff, researchers, academic staff and, of course, students.

Here’s what people have said about our courses:

I am very happy for having this opportunity to learn such an important skill from a great teacher!

Found the interactive part of the session ( ie doing my own searches) very helpful

To see the latest programme and book-on, visit our Library training calendar today or email for more information.