Alexandrina Matilda MacPhail

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Alexandrina Matilda MacPhail

Matilda MacPhail. Photograph by Fréd Ahrlé & Co. Wellcome V0028332.jpg
by Fréd Ahrlé & Co.
Born3 June 1860
Isle of Skye
Died6 November 1946
EducationLondon Medical School for Women
OccupationDoctor, Missionary

Alexandrina Matilda MacPhail, OBE (3 June 1860 - 6 November 1946) was a Scottish doctor who graduated from the London School of Medicine for Women. In 1887 she became a missionary and doctor in India, where she founded what would become a large hospital in Madras. During the First World War, she also worked for the Scottish Women's Hospitals for Foreign Service as a doctor in Serbia and France.

Early life[edit]

Alexandrina McPhail was born in Knock, Sleat, on the Isle of Skye in June 1860. She was the daughter of Reverend John Sinclair MacPhail, first Free Church minister of Sleat, and later minister of the United Free Church; and Jessie Reid (nee Finlayson).[1]


MacPhail attended the London School of Medicine for Women and graduated in 1887.[2] After graduation she travelled to Madras in India.[1]


Rainy Hospital in its prime

MacPhail was the first woman physician sent by the Free Church of Scotland as a medical missionary[citation needed]. At the time she was sent to take the post, there were only 60 women registered as physicians in England and only ten were serving abroad.[3] MacPhail founded a permanent dispensary and clinic in her home in Madras during 1888, primarily focussing on health care for women and children.[4][1][5] Christina Rainy, a Scottish educationist (and sister of Robert Rainy), arrived in Madras towards the end of the 19th century, and began raising funds to support the clinic back in Scotland. These additional funds allowed for the clinic to be expanded and a fully fledged mission, Rainy Hospital, was opened in 1914[6] by Lord Pentland.[7]

During The Great War, MacPhail travelled to Serbia as a doctor and worked for the French under the auspices of the SWH at a sanatorium in Haute Savoie.[8]

MacPhail returned to the hospital in Madras and was still working there in 1928. The hospital was nearly entirely funded by contributions by some private patients and some charitable grants.[7]


MacPhail died in Edinburgh on 6 November 1946.[9]

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 1912 MacPhail received a silver Kaisar-i-Hind Medal for public services in India from the Indian Viceroy.[10] She was granted an additional service bar to the Kaisar-i-Hind Medal in 1918.[11]

She was awarded an OBE in the King George V Birthday honours list 1930.[12][13]


  1. ^ a b c Norman,, Macdonald,. The great book of Skye 2: from the island to the world: history, memory and community on a Scottish island. Maclean, Cailean,, Macdonald, Norman. Portree. ISBN 9781782808923. OCLC 964556670.
  2. ^ "British Medical Journal 5th Nov 1887" (PDF). British Medical Journal. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  3. ^ Thwing, Clarence M. D. (September 1890). "A Plea for Medical Missions". Missionary Review of the World. XIV (9): 674–675. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  4. ^ Bala, Panoom. Medicine and Colonial Engagements in India and Sub-Saharan AfricaCareer. p. 181.
  5. ^ Joseph, Ashish. "Times of India - The Royal past of Royapuram". Times of India. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  6. ^ Muthiah, S. "A hospital rediscovered". Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  7. ^ a b Balfour, Margaret Ida; Young, Ruth (1929). The work of medical women in India. H. Milford. p. 91.
  8. ^ Young, Antonia (2000). Black Lambs and Grey Falcons: Women Travellers in the Balkans. Berghahn Books. p. 81.
  9. ^ "Births, Marriages and Deaths. 30th November 1946". The Lancet.
  10. ^ Reed, Stanley (1912). The King and Queen in India: a Record of the Visit of Their Imperial Majesties the King Emperor and Queen Empress to India, from December 2nd, 1911, to January 10th, 1912. BENNETT, COLEMAN & Co.
  11. ^ "Kaisar-i-Hind Medal: No. 550-I.C." The Gazette of India (Extraordinary). Simla, India. 3 June 1918. p. 337. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  12. ^ "London Gazette Issue 33611" (PDF). Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  13. ^ "The Birthday Honours 7th June 1930". The Lancet.