James was one of the fourteen children born to Samuel Hanbury by his wife Louisa, daughter of Charles Ingham, Rector of Kilmessan and Kilcool, Co Meath, Ireland. His father was a large landowner of Laracor, near Trim, Co Meath, and James Arthur was born there at Somerstoun House on Jan 13th, 1832. One of his brothers, William, helped Florence Nightingale to establish the hospital at Scutari, and was in charge of Netley Hospital at the time of his death; another brother, Fleet-Surgeon Ingham Hanbury, RN, distinguished himself at Tel-el-Kebir.

James Hanbury graduated from Trinity College, Dublin, and entered the Army Medical Service as an Assistant Surgeon on Sept 30th, 1853; was promoted Surgeon on Feb 20th, 1863; Surgeon Major on March 1st, 1873; Brigade Surgeon on Nov 27th, 1879; Deputy Surgeon General on May 5th, 1881; Surgeon Major-General on June 14th, 1887; and retired from the service Jan 13th, 1892.

He was quartered for some years at Halifax, Nova Scotia, before he was sent to China and thence to India. He served with the Bazar Valley expedition in the Afghan War of 1878-1879, and was with the troops on the march from Kabul to relieve Kandahar. He was under fire in the battle on Sept 1st in that campaign, was mentioned in dispatches, received the Medal and Clasp, the Bronze Decoration, and the CB (1881). He was Principal Medical Officer under Lord Wolseley during the Egyptian campaign of 1882, when he was present at the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir, and caused the wounded to receive a dressing on the battlefield, the first time this idea was introduced. Twice mentioned in dispatches, he was promoted KCB in 1882. He served as Principal Medical Officer to the Horse Guards and at Gibraltar (1887-1888). And was Surgeon General to the Forces at Madras from 1888-1892. He received the reward for distinguished service in 1905.

He married in 1876 Hannah Emily, daughter of James Anderson, of Coxlodge Hall, Northumberland, and widow of Colonel Carter, CB, and died at Bournemouth on June 2nd, 1908. Sir James Hanbury is described as standing six feet in height, being alert, handsome, of great independence, and full of energy. He was a popular Master of Hounds at Ootacamund.

Source: The Royal College of Surgeons of England