Flora Murray

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Flora Murray

photograph of Flora Murray in 1914
Flora Murray in 1914
Born(1869-05-08)8 May 1869
Dumfries, Scotland
Died28 July 1923(1923-07-28) (aged 54)
Hampstead, London, England
EducationLondon School of Medicine for Women
Durham University
Known forsuffragette

Flora Murray, CBE (8 May 1869 – 28 July 1923)[1] was a Scottish medical pioneer, and a member of the Women's Social and Political Union suffragettes.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Murray was born on 8 May 1869 at Murraythwaite, Dumfries, Scotland, the daughter of Grace Harriet (née Graham) and John Murray, a landowner and Royal Navy captain.[3] Murray was the fourth out of five children. One of her earliest involvements in the medical field was attending the London Hospital in Whitechapel in 1890. She attended as a probationer nurse, for a six month course. Murray decided on her career in medicine and went on to study in the London School of medicine for Women in 1897.[4] She attended school in Germany and London before going on to study to be a doctor at the London School of Medicine for Women.[5] She then proceeded to work as a Medical assistant for eighteen months at an asylum at the Crichton Royal Institution in Dumfriesshire, this experience was crucial in her writing of her MD thesis called 'Asylum Organization and Management' (1905).[4] She completed her medical education at Durham University, receiving her MB BSc in 1903, and MD in 1905. She received a Diploma in Public Health from the University of Cambridge in 1906.[5] She worked initially in Scotland before returning to London.

Medical career[edit]

In 1905 Murray was a medical officer at the Belgrave Hospital for Children and then an anaesthetist at the Chelsea Hospital for Women. In 1905 The Lancet published an article that she authored on the use of anaesthetic in children, titled Ethyl chloride as an anaesthetic for children.[6]


Murray's hand in women's suffrage first started when she became a participant and activist of Millicent Fawcett's National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies. She then continued her work in women's suffrage as a supporter of Women's Social and Political Union. She also became a consistent participant in the militant movement, offering her services as a practitioner including at the Pembroke Gardens nursing home for suffragettes recovering from force-feeding, run by Nurses Catherine Pine and Gertrude Townend.[7] She took a leadership role and showed her value as an activist by being involved in speaking at public gatherings, becoming a member in the 1911 census protest, and using her medical knowledge and skill to treat her fellow suffragettes who experienced injuries through their work as activists.[4] She looked after Emmeline Pankhurst and other hunger-strikers after their release from prison. She campaigned with other doctors against the forcible feeding of prisoners.[8]

Women's Hospital for Children[edit]

Dr Flora Murray discharges patients, Endell Street c. 1915

In 1912 she founded the Women's Hospital for Children at 688 Harrow Road with Louisa Garrett Anderson. It provided both health care for working-class children of the area, and gave women doctors their only opportunity to gain clinical experience in paediatrics in London; the hospital's motto was Deeds not Words.[8]


When war broke out in the year 1914, Murray and her partner Dr. Louisa Garret Anderson decided to use their medical knowledge and experience to help in WWI. They founded their own women's hospital organization to help and treat wounded soldiers. They believed they could demonstrate that women can contribute to their male counterpart, especially in times of crisis.They approached the British authorities who rejected them and then offered their hand to the French who accepted their assistance. They were able to assemble a small group, the Women's Hospital Corps (WHC). The French provided a new hotel as their hospital.[8] Once the building was converted, injured men from the French and British were brought in to treat their wounds. Flora Murray was appointed to be medicine in chief and Anderson was to be chief surgeon.[9] Murray and Anderson's Women's Hospital Corps ran two military hospitals in Paris and Wimereux.[8] During their work as the Women's Hospital Corps, injured casualties were evacuated to England. The War Office heard and recognized the work of Murray and Anderson's achievements and were invited to England in 1915 to run a large hospital in London under the Royal Army Medical Corps. The hospital was named Endell street military hospital.[8] Endell street military hospital became renowned as the Tatler, seeing more than 24,000 in patients and saw 26,000 more as out patients. Murray and Anderson also saw their roles as leaders as an opportunity to continue to help in women's suffrage and to invest in the future generations. Murray and Endell took their head roles and educated women, particularly the young orderlies. Murray and Anderson were awarded the CBE award for their services in the war.Endell Street was closed in January 1920. Murray returned to Harrow Road hospital which was renamed Roll of Honour Hospital, where she continued her work as a private practitioner. Her diary and writings of her experiences of the War became a book the Women as Army Surgeons: Being the History of the Women's Hospital Corps in Paris, which was published in 1920. The lack of funding eventually lead to the closure of the Roll of Honour Hospital, and also the retirement of both Murray and her colleague Anderson. They both moved together to a cottage in Paul End, in Penn, Buckinghamshire.[4] Their motto Deeds not Words was used for the second time.


Murray suffered from large bowel cancer, which was the reason for her operation. She died shortly after her surgery in a nursing home in Hampstead, London, on 28 July 1923.[8] She is buried at the Holy Trinity Church beside her partner and colleague, Dr Louisa Garrett Anderson near to their home in Penn, Buckinghamshire. Garrett's tombstone reads "We have been gloriously happy".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Flora Murray. findagrave.com
  2. ^ Murray, Flora (1869–1923), physician and suffragette | Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/56304. ISBN 9780198614111.
  3. ^ "SR Birth Search Return for birth of Flora Murray 1869". Scotland's People.
  4. ^ a b c d Matthew, H. C. G.; Harrison, B.; Goldman, L., eds. (23 September 2004), "The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography", The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/56304, ISBN 9780198614111, retrieved 30 April 2019
  5. ^ a b Group, British Medical Journal Publishing (4 August 1923). "Flora Murray, C.b.e., M.d., D.p.h". Br Med J. 2 (3266): 212. doi:10.1136/bmj.2.3266.212-a. ISSN 0007-1447.
  6. ^ Murray, Flora (1905). "ETHYL CHLORIDE AS AN ANÆSTHETIC FOR INFANTS". The Lancet. 166 (4291): 1542–1543. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(01)69925-2.
  7. ^ Atkinson, Diane (2018). Rise up, women! : the remarkable lives of the suffragettes. London: Bloomsbury. p. 397. ISBN 9781408844045. OCLC 1016848621.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Geddes, J. F. (2007). "Deeds and words in the suffrage military hospital in Endell Street". Medical History. 51 (1): 79–98. doi:10.1017/s0025727300000909. PMC 1712367. PMID 17200698.
  9. ^ Leneman, Leah (April 1994). "Medical women at war, 1914–1918". Medical History. 38 (02): 160–177. doi:10.1017/S0025727300059081. ISSN 0025-7273.

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