Pictured is Surgeon Philip Mackay Ellis of the Army Medical Service/Royal Army Medical Corps. The photograph is dated on the reverse "10-9-78" and was probably taken just prior to Ellis deploying to India. The Army List of 1879 shows him being stationed in Bengal.
Ellis was born in Madeira, Portugal on 30 January 1855 being the son of John and Julia Ellis. John Ellis was a wealthy landowner. The 1861 census for Chudleigh, Devon lists his mother Julia's occupation simply as "Gentlewoman".
Philip Mackay Ellis graduated from medical school in 1876 and entered the Army a year later. His military promotions were as follows:
Surgeon - 5 August 1877
Surgeon-Major - 5 August 1889
Surgeon-Lieutenant-Colonel - 5 August 1897
Colonel - 13 August 1904
Surgeon-Major-General - 31 December 1908
Retired Pay - 23 April 1910
Ellis served in the Burmese Expedition (1885-87) being entitled to the 1854 India General Service Medal with the clasp "Burma 1885-87". Ellis spent a large portion of his career stationed in India and at the time that the Medical Service's medal roll for the Burmese Expedition was compiled (13 September 1887) he was posted with No. 5 British Filed Hospital in Bombay.
Ellis married Miss Gertrude Septima Manders in 1895 at Newton Abbott, Devon.
In 1910 Surgeon-Major-General Ellis was the victim of a crime that was reported in the 10 September issue of the Cornish and Devon Post. Almost comically absurd, one could see Peter Sellers acting one, or perhaps both roles in a film version of the heinous crime.
“At Newton Abbot of Friday. Merchant seaman Ernest Harvey was charged with burglary at Bridgeland, Chudleigh, and stealing a piece of birthday cake valued at 2c belonging to Surgeon-General Philip MacKay Ellis.
Prosecutor stated on Wednesday he [Ellis] shut the door at ten minutes to nine, but did not lock it. After that set sat in his drawing-room until a quarter to eleven. Before going upstairs he entered the dining room as was his custom, and the remains of a cake o one of the chairs caught his eye. There were crumbs on the floor. On going to the table he saw the stockinged feet of a man protruding. He asked him what he was doing there. The stranger said he had come to get some food.
Prosecutor collared the accused. Took him to Chudleigh, and handed him over to the police, after allowing him to put on his boots which were in a tree on the lawn. On going out Prosecutor noticed the door was not latched.
His servant, Ella Woodgate stated that she went into the room at 9:30, but the prisoner was not under the table. The cake had been in the cupboard for two days.
P.C. Compton said when charged the prisoner stated that “he had been waiting outside the house for about two and a half hours for the old gentleman to go, and that he had been dodging servants but they were a bit too fly for him. He only went in for something to eat, and did not take away anything else.” A piece of candle, matches and five penny stamps, and a key were found in his possession.
Prisoner demanded to know what he was charged with burglary because he did not break-in.
He was committed to the Quarter Sessions.”
(A 22-year-old ship’s fireman, Ernest Harvey had already served about a year and a half in prison for several other petty crimes. For the “Cake Caper” he was found guilty of “Feloniously and burglariously breaking and entering” as well as stealing the piece of cake. He was sentenced to nine months hard labour.)
During World War One Ellis acted as county director of auxiliary hospitals, voluntary aid detachments for the British Red Cross, Caernarvonshire.
Ellis was included in the King’s New Year’s Honours of 1919 when he was appointed a member of the Order of the British Empire (Civil Division) for his volunteer work during the Great War.
Ellis died on 16 May 1919 at his home in Pwllheli, Caernarvonshire.
Carte de Visite
Henri Claudet - Photographer
107 Regent Street, W. London, England
10 September 1878