James Syme (1799-1870) was a pioneering Scottish surgeon.
He initially studied chemistry, and discovered that a substance obtainable from coal tar had the property of dissolving India-rubber, and could be used for waterproofing silk and other textile fabrics: an idea which was patented a few months afterwards by Charles Macintosh. Syme’s surgical writings were numerous.
In 1831 he published A Treatise on the Excision of Diseased Joints (the celebrated ankle-joint amputation is known by his name). His Principles of Surgery came out a few months later, Diseases of the Rectum in 1838, Stricture of the Urethra and Fistula in Pei-ineo in 1849, Excision of the Scapula in 1864.