Angus Macdonald (obstetrician)

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Angus Macdonald M.D., (18 April 1836 - 10 February 1886), was a Scottish physician and lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, and President of the Edinburgh Obstetrical Society from 1879 to 1881.

Early life[edit]

Born in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, he was the son of James Macdonald of Lochmaddy, North Uist, a road contractor, and his wife Margaret Bremner of Newmill, Banffshire. His father died when Angus was 11, leaving a widow and five children, and Angus Macdonald went to work as a farm labourer in Grange, Banffshire; his formal education was limited to two years in the parish school as a result. Supported by the local schoolmaster, Arthur Gerrard, and his mother, Margaret Bremner Macdonald, "a woman of character and of vigorous intellect",[1] he won a competitive scholarship to King's College, Aberdeen at the age of 19.

Macdonald received his M.A. in 1859 and was awarded the Hutton Prize. He spent a year studying theology at the University of Edinburgh before switching to the study of medicine and qualified as M.D. in 1865. His thesis was entitled "Notes of three renal cases illustrative of vasomotor neuroses."[2]

Medical career[edit]

In addition to starting a private medical practice, Macdonald lectured frequently and served as the Physician to the Royal Infirmary and the Physician to the Royal Maternity Hospital. He became a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1865 and a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1869. He authored many articles in The Lancet. In 1878, he published "On The Bearings of Chronic Disease of the Heart Upon Pregnancy, Parturition, and Childbed," a textbook in obstetrics in use for over 50 years. In 1879, he became President of the Obstetrics Society of Edinburgh, which he held until 1881. A group of obstetricians in the UK named their society the Macdonald Club in his honour, and in 2008 the Royal Medical Society began publishing an Obstetrics Journal dedicated in his memory.


During the last four years of his life, Macdonald had a recurrent lung infection. Advised by his physicians to reduce his commitments, he spent a year in the Riviera. He died at 29 Charlotte Square on 10 February 1886.


Macdonald was married April 19, 1866 to Ann Finlayson (1839–1917), daughter of Thomas Finlayson, the long-time minister of Rose Street United Presbyterian Church in Edinburgh, and his wife Janet Chrystal Carrick. Angus and Ann became the parents of eight children: James Warburton Begbie Macdonald (1867–1869) who was named after one of Dr. Macdonald's professors but died at age 2 of meningitis, Thomas Finlayson Macdonald (1868–1896) who became a physician but died age 28 of pernicious anemia, Jessie Chrystal Macdonald (1870–1931) who married Robert Gordon the treasurer of Quaker Oats and emigrated to America, Angus Macdonald Jr (1872–1949) who became a physician in Edinburgh, Robert John Macdonald (1874–1937)who emigrated to America to work for Quaker Oats, Margaret Bremner Macdonald (1876–1956) who never married and remained in Edinburgh with her mother, George Andrew Macdonald (1878–1949) who emigrated to America to work for Quakers Oats and married his second cousin Margaret Stuart, Ranald Macdonald (1881–1919) who very little is known about.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Edinburgh Medical Journal Staff 1886, p. 1.
  2. ^ Royal College of Physicians Staff 1980.


  • Edinburgh Medical Journal Staff (1886). "The Late Dr Angus Macdonald", Edinburgh Medical Journal, 31(2), pp. 990–8, April 1886.
  • Macdonald, Angus. On The Bearings of Chronic Disease of the Heart Upon Pregnancy, Parturition, and Childbed, London: 1878.
  • Comrie, J. History of Scottish Medicine, 2, pp 685–7, London: Bailliere, Tindall, & Cox, 1932.
  • Chamberlain, Geoffrey. "Angus Macdonald MD FRCP, FRCS 1836-1885", Archived biographical sketch. Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh: undated.
  • The Scotsman, 11 February 1886, p 5. Edinburgh. "The Late Dr Angus Macdonald."
  • "Angus Macdonald 1834-1886", The Dictionary of National Biography, M, p. 474. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1908.
  • "Minutes of the Edinburgh Obstetrical Society 1879-81", Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh.
  • Royal College of Physicians Staff (1980). "Letter to Dr Peter W. Howie, Centre for Reproductive Biology, Edinburgh", regarding Angus Macdonald. Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh, 11 July 1980.
  • Lee, Richard V. and De Swiet, Michael. "Obstetric Medicine: Interdisciplinary care for pregnancy and for women wishing to conceive", Rev. méd. Chile [online]. 2006, vol.134, n.1 [cited 2009-10-29], pp. 109–114 . Available from: <>. ISSN . doi:10.4067/S0034-98872006000100016.