Dr. James McConnell
First of the McConnell doctors





Other sources

  1. Various correspondence with Donald Alexander, great-nephew of James McConnell

Family trees

McConnell /Gawn family tree
Family trees of the McConnell and Gawn families

Other information

Dr James McConnell biography
Dr. James McConnell, extract from Directory of Ulster Doctors qualified before 1901

Courtesy of Donald Alexander

Dr James McConnell
Dr. James McConnell with his mother Agnes, about 1891

Photo courtesy of Donald Alexander

James was the eldest son of Samuel and Agnes McConnell, born in 1866 in Dunedin, New Zealand, where his father was working as a carter in the Otago goldfields. He was about 11 when the family returned to Northern Ireland, to Laurel Hill Farm on the Strand Road near Doagh. He benefited from his father's business acumen, attending Queen's College in Belfast (QCB) from 1883 to read medicine. There he may have met his future father-in-law, Dr. William J. Meharry, who started there in 1879. One could speculate whether the piece of paper James is holding in the photo here is his graduation letter. (James's uncle, Andrew McConnell, had also been a medical doctor in Belfast, and Andrew's son, Adams Andrew McConnell, was Professor of neurosurgery at Trinity College Dublin. See page on the family of Thomas McConnell for details.)

The biography (below left) gives most of the details about James's life which are known. He became fully qualified with MRCSE in 1891, lived for a short time in Ailsworth near Peterborough, and at some stage in the early 1890s moved to London, where he practised at Chelsea and Deptford.

McConnell Meharry wedding
Card on the wedding of James McConnell to Janie Meharry in 1898

Courtesy of Donald Alexander

James probably met his future wife on the medical circuit in Belfast. Janie Meharry, a doctor's daughter, was born in south-west London in 1873, but sometime around 1890 her father started his medical practice in Belfast, where a year earlier James had qualified from the Royal Ulster Infirmary. They married in a Presbyterian church in Bermondsey in 1898.

Inez and Norman Davies
Norman and Inez Davies (née McConnell)

Photo (from 1934) in possession of our family

James and Janie lived first at 57 then at 8 Battersea Rise, south-west London, where their two children were born in 1900 and 1904. Agnes (nicknamed, confusingly, not Nancy but Inez) studied music at the Guildhall, and married Norman Davies, a stockbroker; William Samuel McConnell ('Mac'), my grandfather, followed his father's footsteps into the medical profession, becoming a respected anaesthetist. Inez travelled to Antrim in 1908 with her parents to be a bridesmaid at her aunt Annes Jane's wedding.i

According to the biography, James retired in 1928 to a hotel in Richmond. Quite why is not yet clear. The Probate gives his last address as 81 Holland Park (now a smart London town house), but he died on 9th March 1931 at Camberwell House, a psychiatric hospital on Peckham Road in Camberwell.2,3 and was buried three days later in Morden Cemetery (now Battersea New Cemetery, grave C 2315).