Marion Gilchrist (doctor)

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Marion Gilchrist
Black and white portrait photograph of Marion Gilchrist in graduation attire, 1894
Marion Gilchrist in 1894
Born(1864-02-05)5 February 1864
Died7 September 1952(1952-09-07) (aged 88)
Glasgow, Scotland
EducationHamilton Academy
Queen Margaret College, University of Glasgow
Occupationmedical doctor
Known forfirst female graduate of the University of Glasgow
first woman to graduate with an MB and CH from a Scottish university
Marion Gilchrist Prize
Medical career
Sub-specialtiesgeneral practice

Dr Marion Gilchrist (5 February 1864 – 7 September 1952) was the first female graduate of the University of Glasgow, the first woman to qualify in medicine from a Scottish university;[1][2] and a leading activist in the Women's suffrage Movement in Scotland. In memorial of her and her achievements she has a public park and a car park named in her honour in her native Bothwell.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Gilchrist was born on 5 February 1864 at Bothwell Park farm. Her parents were Margaret and William Gilchrist, a prosperous farmer. She was the younger sister of the Scottish agriculturalist, Douglas Alston Gilchrist. She attended Bothwell Primary School, going on to Hamilton Academy, the prestigious fee-paying school in nearby Hamilton, South Lanarkshire. In 1887, Gilchrist matriculated at Queen Margaret College, University of Glasgow, as an arts student and having begun the examinations while at Queen Margaret College, she attained LLA, awarded by the University of St Andrews in 1890. In the same year, she enrolled at the new Queen Margaret College Medical School.[4] In July 1894, Gilchrist became the first woman to graduate from University of Glasgow, and the first woman to qualify in medicine at a Scottish university, graduating MB and CM.[5] At university, Gilchrist was Vice-President of the Queen Margaret College Student Union; Vice-President of the Literary and Debating Society; Convener of the Queen Margaret College Committee of the Glasgow University Liberal Club, and on 22 January 1894, was elected President of the Women Students' Representative Council at its first meeting, Queen Margaret College.[6]


Medical career[edit]

After graduation, Gilchrist entered general practice, and following the death of her father in 1903 set up her own practice at 5 Buckingham Terrace, Glasgow, remaining at that address for the rest of her life.[7]

Specialising in ophthalmology, Gilchrist was appointed Assistant Surgeon for Diseases of the Eye at the Glasgow Victoria Infirmary, a post she was to hold from 1914 to 1930, and in 1927, she was also appointed an ophthalmic surgeon at Redlands Hospital for Women, Glasgow.[8] Gilchrist also gave of her time on a voluntary basis as physician (1903–11) to Queen Margaret College Settlement's Invalid Children's School.

Suffragette movement[edit]

Gilchrist was one of the founding members of the Glasgow and West of Scotland Association for Women's Suffrage (1902), which she left in 1907 to join the Women's Social and Political Union and the Women's Freedom League. Gilchrist had examined Constance Lytton before her protest aiming to get arrested disguised as a working woman.[9] In 1922, she was elected President of the Glasgow and West Scotland Association of the Medical Women's Federation. She also became a leading member of the British Medical Association (and the first woman chairman of its Glasgow division), and a trustee of the Muirhead Trust.[3][5][10]

Death and legacy[edit]

Gilchrist never married. She died at her home on 7 September 1952.

In 1932, a gift of £1,500 was used to endow a bed at Redlands Women’s hospital for the treatment of eye diseases and it was named in recognition of her.[11]

The Gilchrist Window (1936) in the north transept of the Parish Church in her birthplace of Bothwell was created by Douglas Strachan from funds gifted by Gilchrist. The inscription below the window reads, "To the Glory of God. Erected by Marion Gilchrist in memory of her father William Gilchrist and her mother Margaret Williamson, her brothers, John William and Douglas, and her sister Agnes."[12]

The Marion Gilchrist Prize was established in 1952 from Marion Gilchrist's bequest and is awarded annually by the University of Glasgow to "the most distinguished woman graduate in Medicine of the year."[13]

In 2012, on the 60th anniversary of her death, Bothwell Library had an exhibition to honour her achievements.[14][15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ University of Glasgow – Earliest Graduates Go Live On-Line – Press release Retrieved 7 November 2010
  2. ^ Note: Grace Cadell graduated in 1891 but from an "umbrella" college linked to Edinburgh University rather than a university direct
  3. ^ a b Elizabeth Crawford (2001). The Women's Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide, 1866–1928. Routledge. pp. 244–. ISBN 978-0-415-23926-4.
  4. ^ "Obituaries. First degree in medicine: Dr Marion Gilchrist". The Glasgow Herald. 8 September 1952. p. 7. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  5. ^ a b "People: Dr. Marion Gilchrist". University of Glasgow. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  6. ^ On This Day: 22nd of January. University of Glasgow
  7. ^ Personalities, Marion Gilchrist. The Glasgow Story
  8. ^ Redland Hospital for Women 1902–78. University of Glasgow Archive Services
  9. ^ Atkinson, Diane (2018). Rise up, women! : the remarkable lives of the suffragettes. London: Bloomsbury. p. 191. ISBN 978-1-4088-4404-5. OCLC 1016848621.
  10. ^ "Famous scholars in the faculty of medicine: Marion Gilchrist". University of Glasgow. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  11. ^ "Redlands Women's hospital. Benefits for Glasgow's Middle Class". The Glasgow Herald. 27 February 1932. p. 10. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  12. ^ "The North Transept". Bothwell Parish Church. Retrieved 7 November 2010.
  13. ^ "Marion Gilchrist Award". University of Glasgow. 29 July 2007. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  14. ^ "First female medical graduate honoured". South Lanarkshire Council. 19 March 2012. Archived from the original on 24 December 2012. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  15. ^ "First female medicine graduate Marion Gilchrist remembered". BBC News. 14 March 2012. Retrieved 25 May 2014.

External links[edit]