As Colonial Medical Inspector at the Cape, Barry imposed strict control upon apothecaries and the supply of drugs. Barry also improved the health standards in the gaols and leper colonies. At St Helena, Barry was court-martialed for a certain over-zealousness in attempting to improve the conditions of women patients in the hospital.
This much is know - and what was known for some time was that Dr James Barry was in fact a woman - and always had been. The name James Barry was adopted upon entry into Edinburgh College (1809) by a woman known as Miranda Stuart.
However, new evidence has come to light that Dr. James Barry may, in fact, have been one Margaret Bulkley, the daughter of an Irish Grocer.
According to an article in the Telegraph:
Alison Reboul, a document analysis expert with the Forensic Science Service, has concluded they were written by the same person. Another newly-discovered letter was written by Barry to the family solicitor Daniel Reardon on "his" arrival in Edinburgh to study medicine in 1809.
Although the letter was signed 'James Barry', Reardon had written on the outside 'Miss Bulkley, 14th December’. "Reardon was a meticulous man," said du Preez."
The true identity of Dr. James Barry remained hidden by the British Army after the scandal, when Barry, succumbed to dysentery (1865). Only after Barry died, when the body was laid out to be prepared for burial, was Barry's true sex discovered.
The Telegraph: "Real Army Surgeon Actually A Woman"