Beulah Bewley

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Dame Beulah Rosemary Bewley
Dame Beulah Rosemary Bewley.png
Beulah Rosemary Knox

(1929-09-02)2 September 1929
County Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Died20 January 2018(2018-01-20) (aged 88)
NationalityNorthern Irish
EducationAlexandra College
Alma materTrinity College Dublin
Occupationpublic health physician
Known forPresident of the Medical Women's Federation on the General Medical Council
Spouse(s)Thomas Bewley
Children5, including Susan Bewley
Parent(s)Ina Knox (née Charles)
John Knox

Dame Beulah Rosemary Bewley DBE (2 September 1929 – 20 January 2018)[1] was a British public health physician and past-president of the Medical Women's Federation on the General Medical Council.

Early life[edit]

Bewley was born Beulah Rosemary Knox[2] on 2 September 1929 in a Protestant family in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, the daughter of Ina Knox (née Charles), who came from a wealthy family, and John Knox, who worked for the Ulster Bank.[3] Aged 14 she became a boarder at Dublin's Alexandra College.[3]

Aged five, Bewley decided that she wanted to become a doctor,[2] and went on to qualify as a doctor at Trinity College Dublin in 1953.[3] Bewley worked in paediatrics and preventative medicine for fifteen years, before undertaking a Master of Science degree in social medicine at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine,[4] where she was the only woman in the class.[4]


She served on the Royal Society of Medicine's section on Epidemiology and Public Health. In her career she worked at several institutions in London including the Academic Department of Community Medicine at King's College Hospital Medical School, the Department of Community Medicine, St Thomas’s Hospital Medical School, London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In 1982 she served on the Faculty of Public Health Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians of the United Kingdom.

Her medical school, Trinity College, celebrated its tercentenary in 2011,[5] and Bewley served on the tercentenary board from 2007–2012.[2]

She died on 20 January 2018 at the age of 88.[6]


Bewley was made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2000 New Year Honours for services to public health, and in recognition of her leading role in promoting equal opportunities for women.[7] She was conferred with an Honorary LLD by Trinity College Dublin in 2002.[8]


  • Bewley, Beulah R.; Walsworth-Bell, Jo (May 1982). "For discussion: The inadequacy of adolescent health statistics". Journal of Public Health. doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.pubmed.a043544.
  • Bewley, Beulah (2016). Bewley, Susan (ed.). Beulah Bewley – My Life as a Woman and Doctor. SilverWood Books. ISBN 978-1781324196. (autobiography)


  • "As early as 1902 Ballantyne had found an increase in the abortion rate in French and Austrian women working in tobacco factories."[9]
  • "There certainly was discrimination. They used to look at you and say she is married, or she has got children and if you were not married, they were expecting you to get married."[7]
  • "Promotion by tobacco companies may then be seen for what it is—the ‘pushing' of a dangerous drug."[10]

Personal life[edit]

In Bewley's fourth year at Trinity College Dublin she met a young doctor, Thomas Bewley, from a Quaker family that owned Bewley's coffee shops.[3] They married in 1955, and had five children.[6] Their second daughter, born with Down Syndrome, defied early expectations regarding her health, and lived until the age of 44.[6] Bewley was survived by four children and her husband.[3] Her daughter Susan Bewley upset her mother when she came out as a lesbian, but went on to become a medical professor, and to write her mother's memoirs.[11]


  1. ^ "Birthdays". The Guardian. Guardian News & Media. 2 September 2014. p. 37.
  2. ^ a b c "Pioneering force for women in medicine". The Irish Times. 17 February 2018. Retrieved 2018-08-04.
  3. ^ a b c d e Richmond, Caroline (22 February 2018). "Dame Beulah Bewley obituary". the Guardian. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  4. ^ a b Loughlin, Kelly (October 2001). "Epidemiology, social medicine and public health. A celebration of the 90th birthday of Professor JN Morris". International Journal of Epidemiology. 30 (5): 1198–1199. doi:10.1093/ije/ access
  5. ^ Weir, Donald (20 February 2007). "The Tercentenary of the Trinity College Medical School (2011)". Trinity College Dublin. Archived from the original on 2007-07-05.
  6. ^ a b c Manby, Christine (13 February 2018). "Beulah Bewley: Doctor who fought for women in the medical profession". The Independent. Retrieved 2018-08-04.
  7. ^ a b "Knighthood after 50 years". BBC News. 31 December 1999.
  8. ^ Dublin, Trinity College. "Recipients - Honorary Degrees - Registrar : Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin, Ireland". Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  9. ^ Bewley, Beulah R. (11 February 1984). "Smoking in pregnancy". British Medical Journal. 288 (6415): 424–6. doi:10.1136/bmj.288.6415.424. PMC 1444714. PMID 6419949.
  10. ^ Pletten, S. P. Jackson, A. D. Salisbury, William A. Baker, Leroy J. "1889 Michigan House of Representatives Cigarette Hazards Report". Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  11. ^ "The remarkable story of the Londonderry doctor from a wealthy family who was made a Dame for her pioneering work to save women's lives". Retrieved 10 April 2018 – via