Marion Gilchrist (doctor)
Dr Marion Gilchrist was the first female graduate of the University of Glasgow; the first woman to qualify in medicine from a Scottish university; and a leading activist in the Women’s suffrage Movement in Scotland.

Early life and education

Marion Gilchrist was born on 5 February 1864 at Bothwell
Bothwell is a small town in the South Lanarkshire council area of Scotland. It lies on the north bank of the River Clyde, adjacent to Uddingston and Hamilton, nine miles east-south-east of Glasgow city centre....

 Park farm, to Margaret and William Gilchrist, a prosperous farmer, and was the younger sister of the Scottish agriculturalist, Douglas Alston Gilchrist
Douglas Alston Gilchrist
Douglas Alston Gilchrist FRSE FHAS was a Scottish-born professor of agriculture; author and government advisor.- Early life and education :...

. Educated at Bothwell Primary School, Marion Gilchrist (as had her brother before her) entered Hamilton Academy
Hamilton Academy
Hamilton Academy was a school situated in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, Scotland.Described as "one of the finest schools in Scotland" in the Cambridge University Press County Biography of 1910, Hamilton Academy featured in the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association Magazine article series on...

, the prestigious fee-paying school in nearby Hamilton, South Lanarkshire
Hamilton, South Lanarkshire
Hamilton is a town in South Lanarkshire, in the west-central Lowlands of Scotland. It serves as the main administrative centre of the South Lanarkshire council area. It is the fifth-biggest town in Scotland after Paisley, East Kilbride, Livingston and Cumbernauld...

. In 1887 Gilchrist matriculated at Queen Margaret College, University of Glasgow
Queen Margaret College (Glasgow)
Queen Margaret College was a women-only higher education institution based in North Park House in Glasgow, Scotland.It was established in 1868 by the Association for the Higher Education of Women, as women were not at the time permitted to study at universities in Scotland. The College was named...

, as an arts student and having begun the examinations while at Queen Margaret College, she attained LLA
Lady Literate in Arts
A Lady Literate in Arts or LLA qualification was offered by the University of St Andrews for more than a decade before women were allowed to graduate in the same way as men, and it became popular as a kind of external degree for women who had studied through correspondence, or by attendance at...

, awarded by the University of Saint Andrews in 1890, in which year she enrolled at the new Queen Margaret College Medical School. In July 1894 Gilchrist was to become the first woman to graduate from Glasgow University and the first woman to qualify in medicine at a Scottish university, graduating MB and CM
Master of Surgery
The Master of Surgery is an advanced qualification in surgery. It is most commonly abbreviated Ch.M. or M.S., as well as M.Ch. and M.Chir. from its Latin name, Magister Chirurgiae or the English form of Master of Surgery....


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 the 22 January 1894 was elected President of the Women Students' Representative Council at its first meeting, Queen Margaret College.

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

Later life and the suffragette movement

Specialising in ophthalmology
Ophthalmology is the branch of medicine that deals with the anatomy, physiology and diseases of the eye. An ophthalmologist is a specialist in medical and surgical eye problems...

, Gilchrist was appointed Assistant Surgeon for Diseases of the Eye at the Glasgow Victoria Infirmary
Glasgow Victoria Infirmary
The Glasgow Victoria Infirmary is a teaching hospital with an acute operational bed complement of approximately 370. The hospital is situated at Langside in the south-east of Glasgow, providing a range of high quality health care services including Accident and Emergency, General Medicine , General...

, 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. Gilchrist also gave of her time on a voluntary basis as physician (1903-11) to Queen Margaret College Settlement's Invalid Children's School.

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. In 1922 she was elected President of the Glasgow and West Scotland Association of the Medical Women's Federation; becoming also a leading member of the British Medical Association
British Medical Association
The British Medical Association is the professional association and registered trade union for doctors in the United Kingdom. The association does not regulate or certify doctors, a responsibility which lies with the General Medical Council. The association’s headquarters are located in BMA House,...

 (and the first woman chairman of its Glasgow division), and a trustee of the Muirhead Trust.

The Marion Gilchrist Prize

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."

The Gilchrist Window, Bothwell Parish Church

The Gilchrist Window (1936) in the north transept of the Parish Church in her birthplace of Bothwell was created by Douglas Strachan
Douglas Strachan
Dr. Douglas Strachan was considered the most significant Scottish designer of stained glass windows in the 20th Century. Schooled at Robert Gordon's, he studied art at Gray's School of Art in Aberdeen, at the Life School of the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh, and the Royal Academy in London...

from funds gifted by Marion 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."

Dr. Marion Gilchrist died on 7 September 1952.

External links

The Muirhead Trust
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