George Leon Carrick

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George Leon Carrick, M.D. (born 14th October 1840 & baptised 7th January 1841 at Kronstadt, Russia[1] - died 1908 St Petersburg, Russia) was the famous composer Modest Mussorgsky's personal private physician, and a renowned expert on consumption.[2]


George was the second son of Andrew Carrick (1802-1860), the Agent for the Russia Company[3], a British company operating in St.Petersburg and Kronstadt, Russia, by his wife Janet (Jessie)(1810-1876) daughter of George Lauder (1776-1824) of Inverleith Mains, nr.Stockbridge, Edinburgh, a Landed Proprietor, and sister of John (1818-1888), the grandfather of Sir Harry Lauder (1870-1950) the famous Scottish entertainer. Andrew Carrick and Janet Lauder were married at St Cuthbert's, Edinburgh, on 5th March 1827, where the bride had been baptised. Andrew Carrick's portrait is now in the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh. George had an older brother William (1827-1878), a professional photographer, and a sister Jessie (1842-1924).[4]

Early life

George was sent to Edinburgh to study medicine at the age of 16 (1856). After qualifying (usually 7 years), he became Assistant Physician at Leith Hospital and then Resident Clinical Assistant at the Brompton Hospital for Consumption and Chest Diseases in London. He became an Extraordinary Member of the Royal Medical Society of Edinburgh.[5]


After returning to St.Petersburg in 1865, he became Physician to the British Embassy there, and became President and was later Secretary of the St. Petersburg Physicians' Society.[6] He collected many aristocratic and quite important patients, including Prince Dolgoruky, and the composer Mussorgsky.[7] In 1871 he first visited the Steppes of European Russia and of Central South-Western Asia, and thereafter travelled there at least six further times during his investigations into natural cures for consumption. In 1877 he became involved, as a doctor, in the Russian campaign against the Turks which resulted in the liberation of Bulgaria. The Edinburgh newspaper The Scotsman, also paid him for 'dispatches from the front'! He received a Russian decoration for his efforts. In London Queen Victoria had specifically asked for more information about "the physician to our Embassy in St.Petersburg who has been so much in the papers recently."[8]

Although his mother had lived on the Moshkov Pereulok, in 1881 George was residing at 3 Maximilianovsky Pereulock, St.Petersburg, when he published his acclaimed book entitled Koumiss, or Fermented Mare's Milk - and its Uses in the Treatment and Cure of Pulmonary Consumption and other Wasting Diseases, facsimiles of which are still available and sold today. He went on to open a sanitorium for chest diseases outside Orenburg which he called Janetovka said to be after his niece, Janet Forbes, but might equally have been after his mother. Two years later, in the spring of 1884, when the Great International Health Exhibition, the first of its kind, took place in London, George's "Russian Village" as the press called it, was the major exhibit from Russia.[9]

Closing years

After his mother's death he divided his time between his sanatorium in the summer, and St.Petersburg in the winter, finance for the sanatorium being a constant headache. George died unmarried in 1908 but despite the Russian Civil War his sanatorium has survived, and in 1918 the notorious head of the Bolshevik Cheka, Felix Dzerzhinski spent a month there trying to fight off consumption.[10]


  2. Ashbee, F., "The Carricks of St. Petersburg", in The Caledonian Phalanx - Scots in Russia, National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1987, pps:91-105.
  3. National Records of Scotland RD5/686 pps. 1 - 18
  4. Ashbee, 1987, pps:91-105.
  5. Carrick, George L., M.D., Koumiss or Fermented Mare's Milk, Blackwood & Sons, Edinburgh & London, 1881, title page.
  6. Carrick, 1881, title page.
  7. Ashbee, 1987, p.96.
  8. Scottish Slavonic Review, 1983, p.73-84.
  9. Ashbee, 1987, p.102.
  10. Ashbee, 1987, p.102-4.