William Jardine (surgeon)

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William Jardine (24 February 1784 – 27 February 1843) was a Scottish physician and merchant. He co-founded the Hong Kong conglomerate Jardine, Matheson and Company. From 1841 to 1843, he was Member of Parliament for Ashburton as a Whig.

Educated in medicine at the University of Edinburgh, Jardine obtained a diploma from the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in 1802. In the same year, he became a surgeon's mate aboard the Brunswick of the East India Company, bound for India. Captured by the French and shipwrecked in 1805, he was repatriated and returned to the East India Company's service as ship's surgeon. In May 1817, he left medicine for commerce.[1]

Jardine was a resident in China from 1820 to 1839. His early success in Canton as a commercial agent for opium merchants in India led to his admission in 1825 as a partner of Magniac & Co., and by 1826 he was controlling that firm's Canton operations. James Matheson joined him shortly after, and Magniac & Co. was reconstituted as Jardine, Matheson & Co in 1832. After Imperial Commissioner Lin Zexu confiscated 20,000 cases of British-owned opium in 1839, Jardine arrived in London in September, and pressed Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston for a forceful response.[1]


Early life

Jardine was born in 1784, on a small farm near Lochmaben, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, one of five children. His father, Andrew Jardine, died when he was nine, leading the family to some economic difficulties. Though struggling to make ends meet, Jardine's older brother David provided him with money to attend school, also as a way help set up one of the family. Jardine started to acquire credentials at the very young age of sixteen, in 1800, when he entered the University of Edinburgh Medical School. He took classes in anatomy, medical practice, and obstetrics among others. While his schooling was in progress, Jardine was apprenticed to a surgeon who would provide housing, food, and the essential acquaintance with a hospital practice, with the money his older brother, David, provided for. He graduated from the Edinburgh Medical School on 2 March 1802 , and was presented a full diploma from the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and chose to join the service of the British East India Company in 1802, at the age of 18, in the East India Merchantman "Brunswick". On 15 March, after satisfying the requirements, William Jardine, was paid two months advanced wages as a surgeon's mate in the East India Company’s Maritime Marine Service, and was headed to sea. A good advantage with being in service with the East India Company was that employees were allowed to trade in goods for their own profit. Each employee was allowed cargo space equivalent to two chests or about a hundred pounds of cargo. Jardine engaged in this trade with exceptional dexterity, even cleverly leasing the apportioned cargo space of other crew members who did not have interest in using the space, and was able to save quite an amount of money.

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