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John Maund (1823–1858)

by Frank M. C. Forster

This article was published:

John Maund (1823-1858), physician and analytical chemist, was born on 12 March 1823 at Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, England, eldest son of Benjamin Maund (1790-1863) and his wife Sarah. Benjamin was a chemist, botanist, fellow of the Linnean Society (1827) and author and publisher of such periodicals as the Botanic Garden.

Never physically robust, Maund's early education was largely private. He chose a career in medicine and began his training as a surgical apprentice at Prescot, Lancashire. He then studied at the University of Glasgow with academic distinction and was appointed assistant surgeon to the St Pancras Infirmary, London. He gained the qualifying diploma of the Royal College of Surgeons on 7 August 1845 and spent most of the next year attending hospitals and lectures in Paris. On his return he obtained by examination the licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries of London. He practised briefly at Brecon, Wales, and on his father's urging from 1848 at Harlow, Essex. In August 1849 he was awarded a doctorate in medicine at the University of St Andrews. Finding his health affected by the climate and type of work, he decided in 1851 to migrate to Victoria and practise there as an analytical chemist. He sold his practice, studied chemistry in London in 1852 and received certificates from the Royal College of Chemistry and the Polytechnic Chemical School.

Maund sailed with his sister in the Janet Mitchell and arrived at Melbourne on 3 January 1853. The sickness on board and ashore provided enough work to induce him to recommence a medical practice. He rented a house at 189 Lonsdale Street East until May 1857 when he built a house at 53 La Trobe Street East. His practice grew rapidly because he added professional skill and knowledge to his kindliness and devotion.

Maund was admitted to the University of Melbourne (M.D., ad eund., 1857). He had become a member of the Victoria Medical Association and helped to achieve its union on 18 July 1855 with the rival Medico-Chirurgical Society of Victoria to form the Medical Society of Victoria. He served on the committee and as a secretary of the society, and on 25 August was first to propose its journal. He and Joseph Black were appointed founding editors of the Australian Medical Journal which was published next year. In 1856 Maund initiated and convened a strong sub-committee to promote the society's views on medical registration and the establishment of a medical board. Moved by the desperate plight in childbirth of many poor women, he and R. T. Tracy determined to establish an institution for their care. They leased a house in August 1856 at 41 Albert Street, East Melbourne, and, supported by a committee of women headed by Frances, wife of Bishop Perry, founded the Melbourne Lying-in Hospital (later Royal Women's Hospital). Maund presented the first statistical report of the hospital in the Australian Medical Journal in 1857, one of several medical papers which he published.

Maund was appointed by the government to the new office of analytical chemist. His most important work was water analysis on the Yan Yean scheme. In July 1854 he was a founding councillor of the Victorian Institute for the Advancement of Science and read and had published papers on the deterioration of grain and flour, on the mineral water of Victoria and on the water of the Plenty River. In 1855 he was active in amalgamating this society with the Philosophical Society to form the Philosophical Institute. He died from acute enteritis on 3 April 1858 and was buried in the Melbourne general cemetery. He was not married and the sister who had cared for him returned to England. His house was sold to Edward Barker and his practice taken over by J. G. Beaney. A staunch Anglican, he was also a Freemason of the Meridian Lodge of St John. F. Mueller made a graceful tribute to his friend Maund in his Fragmenta Phytographiae Australiae (Melbourne, 1858-64) and named after him a new genus of the rush family, Juncaginaceae Maundia.

A memorial window is in the parish church at Bromsgrove, Worcester, and a portrait, commissioned posthumously by the Medical Society of Victoria and painted by Nicholas Chevalier, is in the Royal Women's Hospital.

Select Bibliography

  • C. E. Sayers, The Women's: A Social History to Mark the 100th Anniversary of the Royal Women's Hospital, Melbourne 1856-1956 (Melb, 1956)
  • Australian Medical Journal, July 1858, p194
  • H. B. Graham, ‘Happenings of the now long past: the centenary of the Medical Society of Victoria’, Medical Journal of Australia, 16 Aug 1952
  • Age (Melbourne), 5 Apr 1858
  • Argus (Melbourne), 6 Apr 1858.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Frank M. C. Forster, 'Maund, John (1823–1858)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 23 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (Melbourne University Press), 1974

View the front pages for Volume 5

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


12 March, 1823
Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, England


3 April, 1858 (aged 35)
Victoria, Australia

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