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Ernest Sandford Jackson (1860–1938)

by Ross Patrick

This article was published:

Ernest Sandford Jackson (1860-1938), medical practitioner, was born on 18 July 1860 at Sandford, Victoria, son of John Henry Jackson, Tasmanian-born grazier, and his wife Mary Ann, née Bowtell; Samuel Jackson was his grand uncle. Educated at Geelong Church of England Grammar School and Trinity College, University of Melbourne (M.B., Ch.B., 1881), he served as resident medical officer at the Melbourne and Brisbane hospitals and was appointed medical superintendent of the latter in February 1883. A strict disciplinarian, he considered patient care paramount and founded Queensland's first training school for nurses in 1886.

Jackson entered private practice as a surgeon in 1898 with a visiting, later consulting, appointment at the Brisbane Hospital. He bought St Helen's private hospital in 1900. A foundation member of the Queensland branch of the British Medical Association, he was its president in 1895, 1911 and 1926. He was a founding father of the medical school at the University of Queensland and a vice-president of the Brisbane Ambulance Committee. In evidence at the bar of the Legislative Council in 1911 he argued for continuation of the controversial venereal diseases legislation directed mainly at prostitutes.

In November 1914 Jackson left Australia with the Australian Imperial Force as a major in the 1st Australian General Hospital but after serving in Egypt was invalided home in November 1915. Early in 1926 he launched a campaign which led eventually to the Queensland Cancer Trust over which he presided. He was a member of the royal commission into public hospitals of 1930 and of inquiries into lead poisoning and the repatriation of soldiers. He was also a founder of the (Royal) Australasian College of Surgeons in Queensland.

Tall and well-built, with a moustache and clear blue eyes, Jackson had a magnificent presence, a fine speaking voice and a deep sense of honour. A councillor of the Church of England Grammar School, Brisbane, in 1914-38, he was president of the Queensland Club in 1914. He had rowed for Trinity College and Melbourne University and was a splendid horseman. From the family estate in Victoria, he brought blood horses to Queensland and won many show prizes.

Late in life Jackson began to research the history of sea exploration and of medicine. Accepting an invitation in 1931 to deliver the first annual Jackson oration established in his honour by the B.M.A.'s Queensland branch, he entitled it 'Some voyages connected with the discovery of Australia; their medical history'. His historical papers are preserved in the Roberts Centre at Brisbane Grammar School. As a vice-president of the (Royal) Historical Society of Queensland he contributed actively to its proceedings. He retired in 1934 to Koorakooracup, a house at Victoria Point named after a station owned by his family in Victoria, where he indulged his love of horses, history and gardening.

At Brisbane on 14 August 1890 Jackson had married with Baptist forms the Scots nurse Christina Bain; they had seven children. He died of hypertensive heart disease at St Helen's Hospital on 29 June 1938 and was buried with Anglican rites in Toowong cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • W. P. F. Morris, Sons of Magnus (Brisb, 1948)
  • Medical Journal of Australia, 15 Oct 1938, p 659, 20 Dec 1969, p 1271
  • Brisbane Hospital Committee, 17 Jan 1899 (HOS 1/D13, Queensland State Archives)
  • private information.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Ross Patrick, 'Jackson, Ernest Sandford (1860–1938)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 18 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (Melbourne University Press), 1983

View the front pages for Volume 9

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


18 July, 1860
Sandford, Victoria, Australia


29 June, 1938 (aged 77)
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.