Dr John Paull, MB, BS, Dip Ed., FANZCA.

Retired after 40 years practising anaesthesia and engaging in research, teaching, administration, and more recently the history of anaesthesia in Australia, in 2013 John published his biography of Dr William Russ Pugh.  Now he has turned his attention to the Log and Journal which Dr Pugh compiled on the long voyage from England to New Holland as a 28 year old ship’ s doctor in 1835. After a seven-year search for the journal, extracts of which appeared in a 1934 Tasmanian newspaper, and assisted by the diligent efforts of Launceston genealogist, Aileen Pike, the missing Journal was found in the safekeeping of a great great grandson of Pugh’s sister, living in Bristol, England.  Again assisted by many people, John has transcribed and annotated the hand written journal to reveal the exciting tale of Pugh’s five month journey from England to Hobart, on to Sydney and return to Hobart and then a month long walk to Launceston. Beset by pessimism, fed by adverse reports about opportunities for medical practice from everyone he met and worried that his youthful addiction to gambling might yet return Pugh was under great stress. Fortunately his walk to Launceston culminated in his establishment of a successful medical practice and marriage to his ship-board sweetheart.

John Paull with the statue of Pugh in Launceston


"Dr Pugh, on his long walk from Hobart to Launceston, was repeatedly told by the settlers he stayed with

that he should abandon the idea of being a doctor and should take up sheep farming.

Fortunately for anaesthesia he chose Medicine instead of Mutton."  (John Paull)

Persistence Pays

The Discovery of Dr William Russ Pugh's Log and Journal

of his 1835 Voyage from England to New Holland

Transcribed and edited by

John Paull

Rona Hollingsworth, Curator, Maritime Museum of Tasmania


By locating and publishing the diary of William Russ Pugh, Dr John Paull has made a valuable contribution to the story of Tasmania’s early European immigrants and to our knowledge of a particularly innovative and colourful doctor. As well as providing a transcription of the diary he has added well-researched footnotes to provide context to Pugh’s observations.

The work complements Not Just an Anaesthetist, the author’s first book on William Pugh who introduced surgical anaesthesia to Australia in 1847. But it can also be read as a stand-alone example of a surgeon’s shipboard diary on a voyage from England to Hobart in 1835.




Anaesthesia is regularly, and rightly, described as being one of the most significant developments in modern medicine. Dr William Russ Pugh was a pioneer in surgical anaesthesia, and is recognised as the first medical practitioner in Australia to administer ether anaesthesia. Pugh’s diary, written during his voyage to Australia, and before he found his place in history, provides further insight into the man. Thank you to Dr John Paull,who through perseverance, scholarship, and attention to detail has provided a valuable opportunity for us to access this diary. The Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists has been pleased to provide funding for this project as part of an annual grant program to assist historical research and publication.


Prof David A Scott, President, Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists.



Soft Cover Edition


Dr Tom Dunning is a retired University of Tasmania Historian, where he was head of the Department of History and Classics from 2007 to 2012. He holds a PhD from the University of California.


John Paull’s annotated transcript of Dr. William Russ Pugh’s handwritten 1835 Log and Journal of his voyage from Gravesend on the Thames to Hobart Town in Van Diemen’s Land and on to Sydney and return to Hobart is a very good read. It is an account of a nineteenth-century voyage involving a shortage of drinking water, storms, meteorites, a partial eclipse of the sun, and a potentially dangerous encounter with pirates. It also includes a shipboard romance as well as being the surgeon’s clinical notes on the passengers and crew and his own diagnosis of his illness, adding a very real atmosphere to the diary. Paull’s notes are thorough and informative, covering Pugh’s use of early 19th century language and many referrals to maritime matters, making it easy to read the Journal.

Proudly supported by:

The Australian and New Zealand College

of Anaesthetists.

The W D Booth Charitable Trust, Launceston, Tasmania.

Buy the books

For delivery outside Australia email the publisher at jdpaull@intas.net.au

for shipping arrangements and costs.

Binding Options

The book is available in two editions. A Hard Cover Deluxe signed and numbered limited edition featuring beautiful endplates of early 19th century paintings of Gravesend where Pugh embarked and Hobart Town, his ultimate destination. It contains 25 illustrations of maps, scenes visited by Pugh and portraits of significant persons met on his journey. The cover has a fabric spine, recessed cover painting and the title printed in gold leaf.


The soft cover edition contains all of the text and

illustrations of the Deluxe volume.

Front Endpaper

Back Endpaper


For delivery outside Australia email the publisher at jdpaull@intas.net.au

for shipping arrangements and costs.

"As an Australian pioneer of anaesthesia, Dr William Russ Pugh holds a special place in the hearts of many anaesthetists. However, as Dr John Paull tells us in “Not Just an Anaesthetist: The Remarkable Life of Dr William Russ Pugh” there was so much more to this extraordinary character. The Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists is delighted to support this publication about an important figure in the history of anaesthesia and mid-19th century Launceston."


Dr Lindy Roberts (ANZCA President)

"William Russ Pugh has been brought to life in a remarkable book by John Paull from Launceston, Tasmania. John had retired from an illustrious career as a consultant anaesthetist in Melbourne and subsequently in Launceston and was approached by a colleague in 2005 to assist with a book chapter on Pugh. He was given a small file of papers to facilitate that process. Pugh’s name is probably well known to most physicians with an interest in anaesthesia history as the first to provide ether anaesthesia in Australia and parts of that story have been told many times. John Paull has taken the story to a new level by placing Pugh into a period which he has brought into vivid perspective through meticulous research and excellent descriptive writing. This new book tells the full Pugh story for the first time and creates for the reader an exciting insight into the life and times of the vibrant city port of Launceston in the Victorian Age. Pugh was a doctor with an inquiring mind and a desire to learn and develop; Paull has brought him to life by following those same traits and encouraging the reader to do the same."


David J Wilkinson, MBBS, FRCA, Hon FCARCSI

Wood Library Laureate in the History of Anaesthesia 2008-12,

President, World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists

Emeritus Consultant Anaesthetist, St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London.


An unsolicited testimonial from a colleague:


Hi John - Have just finished reading “Not Just An Anaesthetist” and what a fantastic read! What an incredible character was our William Russ Pugh.  Thank you so much for bringing his story to us. He sure was not just an anaesthetist – doctor, autopsy provider, walker, scientist, experimenter, humanitarian investor, combatant - vindictive and with a passionate involvement in all aspects of Launceston society.  And what a picture you paint of Launceston Society – feuding doctors quickly taking their disputes to the courtroom, sensational press ready to take sides, and lots of nasty, vindictive characters quick to take offence.  Meanwhile on the streets, assaults and accidents and neglected children.  Launceston was sure a place of action in the 1830s and 40s!  Congratulations on such a great piece of scholarship.


Dr Geoffrey C Mullins, MB BS, FANZCA, FRCPC  (Perth, WA)

Contact John

Printed and bound in Launceston, Tasmania by

Please email any enquiries about the books to: jdpaull@intas.net.au

or call John directly on  0409 235 800