Can anyone shed light on Joseph Cannings?

Dear Editor,

Not long ago I was looking for something from the 1886 newspapers at the National Archives. To find what I was looking for, I had to start at the beginning of the year and search the pages (each of which is about a foot wide and about a foot long) of each day’s newspaper.

In the edition for Friday, 19 February 1886 of the Daily Chronicle I found the article which I set out below. I thought that it was interesting enough to write the entire piece out in longhand. Mr Cannings doesn’t seem to be a young man, and bearing the year in mind, his achievements seem far more considerable than the writer of the piece makes out.

Perhaps someone can explain what is meant when Mr Cannings is described as having gone ‘home’ to study medicine when he was described earlier as being a native of Den Amstel. And maybe one of your readers knows what he went on to do.

Friday, 19 February 1886

Page 2

On Saturday last we announced from an examination list recently published in the Glasgow Herald that one “Joseph Cannings” of Demerara had passed in the first stage of the examination for the triple qualification of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Edinburgh and the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow. We now learn that the Mr Cannings in question is a black man, a native of Den Amstel village, West Coast. He held a third class teacher’s certificate, and for some time was a school-master, but subsequently became a compositor and “served at case” with the old Colonist office for some four or five years. Mr Cannings left the printing business, however, in order to study dispensing at the Colonial Hospital, and afterwards went as estate dispenser and sicknurse to Pln Tuschen de Vrienden, then under the management of Mr T. C. Bagot and from thence in a similar capacity to Pln Anna Regina, Essequebo. He remained under Mr Gilzer until about the middle of 1883, when he determined to go home and study medicine, and with that aim in view he left the colony on the 26th June in that year as a passenger by the ss Moruca.

Yours faithfully,

Kamal Ramkarran

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