Lumsden, Sir John (1869–1944), physician and founder of the St John's Ambulance Brigade in Ireland, was born 14 November 1869 at the Mall, Drogheda, the son of John Lumsden, bank manager, and Florence Isabella Groom Lumsden (née McKearn). Educated at the High School in Dublin and then at Taunton in Somerset, he studied medicine at TCD and gained an MB (1894) and an MD (1895). He was appointed first medical officer (1894), then chief medical officer (1899), at Guinness's Brewery, St James's Gate, Dublin, and quickly reorganised the company's medical provision for employees and their families, making it an efficient and effective service and a model of its kind; he worked for Guinness until 1940. He was interested in conditions affecting public health, particularly the health of the poor, infant health, and the budgets of workmen's families, publishing An investigation into the income and expenditure of seventeen brewery families and a study of their diets, being a report made to the directors of A. Guinness ... St James's Gate, Dublin (1905). In 1911 a paper he gave to the Insurance Institute of Ireland was published as Some medical aspects of life assurance.
A member of the St John's Ambulance Brigade in England, he requested that he be allowed to run a first-aid course for brewery employees in Dublin (1903). When a large number of employees expressed an interest in continuing to learn and provide first aid he founded the St James's Gate division of the St John's Ambulance Brigade in Ireland (registered in 1904). Staff of the St John's Ambulance Brigade tended to the wounded with impartiality during confrontations associated with the lock-out of 1913, as well as during the battles of the Easter rising, the war of independence, and the civil war; as a result the organisation was well respected in the community. Outside Baggot Street Hospital in Easter week 1916, at the scene of bitter fighting, Lumsden risked his own life to tend injured men, both republicans and British soldiers. He was awarded the silver medal of the Order of St John of Jerusalem (1916) for life saving, and the British Red Cross Society special medal for gallantry (1916). He showed the same courage in responding to the needs of the wounded in the thick of fighting at the Four Courts in June 1922.
During the first world war he started a fund to raise money for medical supplies and other provisions required by wounded soldiers, using his own home as a storage depot. In recognition of his organisational skills and contribution to the war effort, he was placed in charge of auxiliary hospitals in Ireland and the transportation of wounded soldiers returning from the front. He served as a major in the Royal Army Medical Corps (1917–18), attached to No. 83 General Hospital, Wimereux, France. He was created a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in 1918. After the war he returned to Ireland and continued his humanitarian work as chairman of the joint committee of the St John's Ambulance Brigade and the British Red Cross Society, charged with helping to rehabilitate wounded and distressed ex-servicemen.
Lumsden held various appointments throughout his career and received several awards: he was commissioner, Éire district, of the St John's Ambulance Brigade (1940–44); he was made a Knight of Justice of the Order of St John of Jerusalem (1915); he served as chairman of the British Red Cross emergency committee (1924) and vice-chairman of the cancer research committee (1926); he was for many years senior visiting physician to Mercer's Hospital, Dublin (1897–1939), and was also consulting medical officer to the commissioner of Irish lights and consulting physician to the household of Edmund FitzAlan-Howard (qv), Viscount Fitzlan, during the latter's office as the last lord lieutenant of Ireland (1921–2); he was governor for life of the Rotunda Hospital, the Royal Hospital for Incurables, and St Patrick's Mental Hospital in Dublin; and he was made a fellow of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland. The first blood transfusion service in the Irish state was organised by the St John's Ambulance Brigade when Lumsden advertised in the national newspapers (1935) for people to register officially as blood donors. Together with Matthew Russell (qv), he was a founder member of the Irish Red Cross Society (1939) and a member of its first central council.
Lumsden married Caro F. Kingscote, youngest daughter of Major Fitzhardinge Kingscote, of Furbo, Co. Galway (1896). They had one son and five daughters. He excelled at social work and administration rather than the academic aspects of clinical medicine. For recreation he enjoyed fishing, shooting, and golf, and encouraged interest in the last of these sports. His residences were 4 Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin, and Earlscliff, Baily, Howth, Co. Dublin; the latter was at one time the residence of John Mahaffy (qv). He became ill in the summer of 1943 and died 3 September 1944 at Earlscliff.