Dr John Nicholson Dobie

Major John Nicholson Dobie M.A. M.D. J.P.,
Royal Army Medical Corps. Surgeon at Keighley War Hospital.

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John Dobie, taken in 1918 with the Keighley War hospital orchestra.

John Dobie, taken whilst serving with the Keighley Volunteers in 1915.

Early life:
John was born on 18th May 1866, registered in East Ward, Westmorland, in the second quarter of the year. His parents were William and Emily Williams Dobie.
He was baptised on 16th July at Temple Sowerby in Westmorland.
In the 1871 census John was four and living at College Street, Keighley with his parents, brothers and sisters. Their father was a local doctor in general practice.
By 1881 John was 14 and living at 24, Cook Lane, Keighley with his family. He was a scholar at Bingley Grammar School.
On 16th October 1884 he matriculated from Exeter College, Oxfordon 16th October 1884 and on 1st October1885 he was at Cambridge University Alumni Matriculation. College: CAIUS. BA: 1888. MA: and BC: 1895 at Addenbrooks and St Mary's Hospitals. In the 1891 census he was a 24 year old medical student, lodging at Claremont House in Paddington, when he would have been a resident clinical assistant at Paddington Infirmary.
On 5th August 1893 aged 27 years (Medical practitioner) he married Laura Alberta Jane Sargent (Age 24 years) at Christ Church, Brondesbury, Willesden, Middlesex. Both were living at 11, Dyne Road, Willesden.
By 1901 he was living at 137, Oaklands in Keighley with wife Laura and daughter Edna F. Dobie (age, under 1 month) Occupation: Medical Practitioner.
In 1906 John' wife Laura died aged only 36, this was r registered in Keighley in the third quarter of the year.
John married Gretta Tomkins, registered in Keighley in the third quarter of 1907.
In the 1911 census John was 44 years of age and living at 137, Oaklands, Keighley with hiswife Gretta and daughter Edna - age 10 years. Occupation: Medical Practicioner and by then he was the consulting surgeon at Victoria Hospital in Keighley. He was also the Police Surgeon for the Keighley Division of the West Riding Constabulary and during the riots at the end of September 1914, John treated a number of injuries to local Police officers.

War service and during the Keighley Riots of 1914:
Many members of the Keighley police force received cuts and bruises and had to receive attention at the hands of Dr J. N. Dobie.
John volunteered for service on 11th January 1915, becoming an officer with the Keighley Volunteers as married. with 2 Daughters. He was over the age for regular Army service at 48 years.
By 6th July 1916 he was appointed as a Captain with the Royal Army Medical Corps, working as a surgeon and physician at the Keighley War Hospitals. For his outstanding work in this field, he was mentioned in despatches, recorded in the London Gazette. John left the RAMC in 1919.

Keighley War Hospital record:
The Keighley War Hospital was a centre where American Surgeons could see the latest developments in military surgery and some 30 American Red Cross surgeons attended lectures by Dr Branden and saw demonstrations and heard clinical discourses on methods dealing with the more interesting and obscure results of modern warfare by Majors' Dobie and Branden.
The Keighley War Hospital cluster of local hospitals served the needs of 13,214 soldier patients between July 1916 and April 1919. John Nicholson Dobie was there for the whole time.

Later life:
In 1926 he was appointed to the Keighley Borough Bench.
John died on 15th February 1940, aged 73 years and the death was registered in Keighley in March. His address was 282, Skipton Road. He is buried in Utley Cemetery, Keighley.
John was in practice at Keighley between 1898 and 1940, a total of 42 years. He was a Justice of the Peace for Keighley.

Obituary in Keighley Library, from The Keighley News 17th February 1940:
Keighley has lost an outstanding personality in the life of the town by the death at the Keighley and District Victoria Hospital on Thursday of Dr. J. Nicholson Dobie, of Wood Crest, Skipton Road, Keighley. This is the third death in the Keighley medical profession in two months, the others being Dr. H. S. Brander and Dr. Francis Villy. Aged 73 years, Dr Dobie was for 28 years surgeon at the hospital and followed his father, the late Dr. William Dobie, who was one of the original members of the medical staff. Together they had a connection with the hospital of practically 50 years.
Dr. J. N. Dobie went with his brother, the late Dr. H. S. Dobie, to Bingley Grammar School and had a lifeling association with Keighley district. In the medical profession he was held in high esteem and as a surgeon it was held that few were more skilful in the North of England.
He saw the work at Keighley Victoria Hospital grow from small beginnings, when operations were performed on a kitchen table with the aid of the matron and a maid, to the finely equipped building of which he was extremely proud.
During the last war, on the formation of Keighley Volunteers, he undertook the instruction of the ambulance section, using a wide experience of St, John Ambulance work in which he had trained hundreds of men and conducted scores of examinations and competitions.
When Spencer Street Congregational Sunday School was opened as an auxiliary hospital for wounded he was a member of the staff, and on the opening of Keighley and District War Hospital at Morton Banks he was gazetted Captain in the R.A.M.C. and later promoted Major.
His war work was, indeed, outstanding, and he was immensly popular with the wounded soldiers with whom he came in contact, for there was nothing in Dr. Dobie's nature which suggested the official manner and his homely and kindly manner brought him into greater intimacy than was customary even in the Army Medical Service. His skill as a surgeon in dealing with cases of serious injury must have saved the lives of scores of men who now live to bless the memory of one who was always at his pot when duty called, and who could mix with them in brighter times and meet them as man to man.
For many years he was Keighley police surgeon, and he was thought of highly by every man of the police force with whom he came into contact.
In the work of the St. John Ambulance Brigade Dr. Dobie had the happy knack of imparting knowledge in a popular manner, and he was an adept at setting problems for competitions. For his ambulance work he was made a Knight of Grace of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem.
When appointed to the Keighley Borough bench in 1926 he was one of the few with the distinction of following his father in that capacity. He was regular in attendance at court so long as his health remained good.
He had a keen ear for music and was an accomplished cellist, and at one time a playing member of Keighley Orchestral Society. He was also an ardent angler and found great enjoyment in salmon fishing.

An orchestra at the Keighley War Hospital. Dr J. N. Dobie is in the centre holding his cello.
Dr J. N. Dobie in the centre, holding the cello.

Tribute to Dr. Dobie's work on the bench was paid by the Mayor of Keighley (Mr. J. W. Wardle) before the ordinary business of the Keighley Borough Court on Tuesday.
Dr. Dobie, said the Mayor, was appointed to the bench on 1926 and although the duties of a doctor were very great indeed he attended the court frequently and carried out his duties in a most efficient manner. "I think everyone will agree that Dr. Dobie was one of the most respected men in this town and he was respected for his great surgical ability and his medical skill as well," said the Mayor, who added that the doctor was a member of the Juvenile Panel and took a great interest in the juvenile courts. They all greatly regretted the passing away of such a valuable member of the community and a man so highly esteemed. All present in the court rose as a mark of respect.

Source information:
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915
England & Wales, Christening Index, 1530-1980
England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975
1871 England Census
1881 England Census
England, Oxford Men and Their Colleges, 1880-1892
1891 England Census
London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921
1901 England Census
England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1837-1915
England & Wales marriages 1837-2005
1939 register
England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007
UK and Ireland, Find A Grave Index, 1300s-Current
England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, 1973-1995
John Nicholson Dobie in the Cambridge University Alumni, 1261-1900
Keighley Volunteers records, Keighley Family History Society
Herbert A. France Archive BK424 at Keighley Library.
Keighley News obituary, Keighley Library.

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