Margaret Cruickshank

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Margaret Cruickshank
Margaret Cruickshank, ca 1897.jpg
Margaret Cruickshank, ca 1897
Born (1873-01-01)1 January 1873
Palmerston, New Zealand
Died 28 November 1918(1918-11-28) (aged 45)
Waimate, New Zealand
Monuments Statue of Margaret Cruickshank in Waimate
Alma mater University of Otago
Occupation Medical doctor
Known for First registered female doctor in New Zealand; first female doctor to work in a general practice in New Zealand

Margaret Barnett Cruickshank (1 January 1873 – 28 November 1918) was a New Zealand medical practitioner who died during the 1918 influenza pandemic. She was the first registered female doctor in New Zealand.

Early life and family[edit]

Cruickshank was born a twin on New Year's Day 1873 in Palmerston, a small town in the South Island of New Zealand. Her twin was also a girl, Christina. Their parents were Elizabeth (born Taggart) and George, who had emigrated together from Scotland; first to Australia and then to Dunstan in Central Otago, to join the gold rush there.[1][2]

Cruickshank's mother died while the twins were young and as a result they were needed at home to help raise their five younger siblings. They took turns to attend school; the one who attended teaching the one who had stayed home. In this way they completed their studies at Palmerston District High School and then went on together to Otago Girls' High School in Dunedin. Both girls were duxes in 1891.[1]

Medical career[edit]

Cruickshank attended the University of Otago Dunedin School of Medicine and was the second woman, following Emily Siedeberg, in New Zealand to complete medical school,[3] graduating in 1897. She went into general practice (the first woman in New Zealand to do so) in Waimate.

In 1913 Cruickshank completed postgraduate studies in Edinburgh and Dublin, travelling also to Europe and America.

During World War I she organised the work of the Waimate Red Cross Fund, and took over the caseload of her partner, Dr Barclay, who had enlisted and gone overseas. She was also one of three doctors who shared his role of hospital superintendent in his absence. When the 1918 flu pandemic broke out, Cruickshank worked night and day, caring for the children of ill parents, cooking meals for them and even milking the cow of a family whose adults were too ill to do so themselves. Eventually she fell ill herself and died on 28 November 1918.[1]


Cruickshank memorial in 2009

In 1923 a memorial statue was unveiled at a memorial service at Seddon Square in Waimate.[4] The speakers at the ceremony included Cruickshank's former classmate Dr Emily Siedeberg, representing the New Zealand Medical Women's Association, the Member of Parliament for Waitaki, John Bitchener, and the chair of the local council, Mr. Hart. Miss M. Allen was also present, as a representative of the Otago University Women's Association. The unveiling was performed by Cruickshank's landlady of 23 years, Mrs Barclay.[5]

The statue was carved by New Zealand sculptor William Trethewey.[6] It was the first monument erected to a woman other than Queen Victoria in New Zealand[1] and its inscription reads "The Beloved Physician – Faithful Unto Death".[5]

In 1948 the maternity ward in Waimate Hospital was named after her.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d Macdonald, Charlotte (ed.) (1991). The Book of New Zealand Women. Wellington, New Zealand: Bridget Williams Books. pp. 159–161. ISBN 0908912048. 
  2. ^ "Margaret Barnett Cruickshank, M.D. Waimate, N.Z.". Retrieved 26 October 2015. 
  3. ^ Ministry for Culture and Heritage. "Margaret Cruickshank". Retrieved 24 April 2011. 
  4. ^ New Zealand History online. "Margaret Cruickshank memorial". Retrieved 24 April 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "Tribute To A Woman Doctor". Kai Tiaki: the journal of the nurses of New Zealand. 1 April 1923. pp. 59–60. Retrieved 29 October 2015. 
  6. ^ Phillips, Jock. "William Thomas Trethewey". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
  7. ^ Hughes, Beryl. "Cruickshank, Margaret Barnet". Te Ara Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Retrieved 24 April 2011.