James Morris Biography



Of all the learned professions there is none to the student who has ambition within him, and a desire to make a name for himself in the world, no sphere which affords more simple scope for the development of character than that of a physician. The medical faculty live in an atmosphere of their own in the world, and no men or set of men have more opportunities in life of studying human nature in all its phases than medical men.

The round of life of a doctor is daily one of great strain on his mental powers, but the amount of effort made has to him some compensating return. In having to study the force of will, and the variety of temper of his patients, his sympathies were drawn out, and who whole nature drinks in every cardinal virtue that ought to adorn the character of a gentleman.

Indeed, your ordinary doctor ought to have prudence, discrimination, zeal, and all that degree of tact and forethought which is so requisite and essential to those who have to come in between the living and the dead. No men live more for others than our doctors, and no men make more sacrifices than they do. They fear no danger, and shrink no duty, and as a rule they are men of honour, whose highest motive seems to be to do their duty to their patients, and to revive the good name of their high profession.

It is thoughts and facts such as these that bring us face to face today with the subject of this sketch – Dr James Morris of Dunfermline.

The doctor was born in the village of Cairneyhill, which is situated three miles from this town. The village then was in its palmy days. The handloom manufacture of linen and damask goods was the staple industry of the place, and from end to end of the village a good few dozen of the inhabitants found comfortable employment. Then it was that many weavers’ sons came to Dunfermline every morning as shop boys, and Cairneyhill has furnished to the world more drapers, chemists, lawyers, etc than any village which has situated on any of the many reaches of the Forth.

Doctor James Morris

James Morris after receiving a liberal education was sent to Dunfermline, where he became an apprentice chemist with the late Mr Gavin Stiell, whose premises were then at the west end of Bridge Street. If there was one quality more than another that formed part and parcel of Mr Stiell’s character, it was the faculty he possessed of discerning merit and drawing out the ambition of those under him. It was soon seen that the growing chemist had an aim in life., and that he intended to take the tide at its full flood. Mr Stiell gave him every assistance, and after the usual period at college, young Morris secured his diploma and began practice in Dunfermline.

It was not long before he made his mark in the town, and has retained ever since the full confidence of the entire community. The outbreak of cholera gave the inhabitants a special opportunity of knowing of what stuff the young doctor was made. At that time and repeatedly since then the doctor has rendered special services to the town and district. For a long series of years he has been medical doctor for various collieries, and besides being Medical Officer for the Burgh and Police Surgeon, he holds the important post of Parochial Surgeon. In this latter sphere he has rendered important help to the poor all over the town, not only by his gratuitous services, but by rendering with his purse aid to many deserving people. To the inmates of the Dunfermline Poorhouse he has given great attention. His annual gifts and the punctuality of his daily visits to the house all bespeak the noble and busy life he leads.

For a long period the doctor has been an office-bearer in Queen Anne Street Church, and has rendered many services to the Church and congregation. He is president of the Dunfermline Property Investment Society, and holds several other offices in the town. A few years ago the doctor built a splendid mansion on Park Avenue. He has been twice married, and has a large family.

Such then is a somewhat brief sketch of the career of Dr Morris,, of whom the people of Dunfermline ought to be proud. His whole life has been a striking example of what self-reliance and perseverance can do. We have spoken only of the doctor’s public career and with that we might well be done. No spot or flaw marks his life, but to know the full measure and standard of the man, one has to know him privately.

In the home circle, at a friend’s fireside, and even in his many interviews with the dying, one can get a glimpse of the higher qualities which adorn his character, and which are entwined around all his actions. Just praise cannot be flattery, and the writer of these lines knows a few out of the many, who have got ‘a lift’ in life from the doctor, whose career has been honoured by the length of days, which has given him the privilege of showing, to his fellow towns-men, that the good we do here is worth doing well.

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