History Bearing – Story of Doctor James Miranda Barry

By rowena on November 30, 2010 | Category: Blog | No Comments

Dr James Miranda Barry: The She-doctor

Margaret Ann Bulkley (alias James Miranda Barry) was born in Ireland in the late eighteenth century. When Margaret and her mother were left with no financial security, Margaret’s maternal uncle, James Barry (an artist and Professor of Painting at London’s Royal Academy) sort help and discussed the problem with two colleagues: Edward Fryer – a physician, and General Francisco Miranda who owned an extensive library. When Barry died in 1806 he left Margaret enough money to pursue her studies and for 3 years she did so with the assistance of Fryer and Miranda. In 1809 the decision was made to dress Margaret as a boy with the help of Fryer, Miranda and Daniel Reardon (the family solicitor). She then attended university in Edinburgh disguised as Mr James Miranda Barry and studied medicine. In 1812 Barry (Margaret) joined the British Army, as a doctor. The following years saw Barry become a very highly revered doctor and surgeon who travelled extensively throughout Africa, Europe and the Caribbean. Barry was the first doctor to perform caesarean sections in the United Kingdom and became known and respected for ‘his’ skill and knowledge in this area. Upon her death in 1865, Barry’s sexuality was discovered. A woman named Sophia Bishop who had been assigned to prepare (his) body claimed that Barry’s body was not only female but showed signs of having given birth during her lifetime.

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