Thursday, 23 November 2017

Dr. Elsie Inglis (1864 - 1917) – Scottish doctor and Suffragist

Elsie Maud Inglis was born on 16th August 1864 in Naini Tai, India where her father, John Forbes David Inglis, was a Civil Servant working with the East India Company. Elsie’s mother was Harriet Lowis Inglis, nee Thompson.

Educated privately, two years after the death of her Mother (1885), Elsie enrolled to study medicine at the newly opened Edinburgh School of Medicine for Women.  After she qualified, Elsie worked at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson New Hospital for Women in London and then at a Maternity Hospital in Ireland, before setting up her own medical practice in Edinburgh.

Elsie worked closely with the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies and in 1914 she set up the Scottish Women’s Hospitals.  The SWH supplied units consisting of women doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, orderlies and cooks for foreign assignments.  After being turned down by the British War Office, Elsie offered her units to France and was accepted.  SWH units served during WW1 in France, Malta, Romania, Russia, Salonika and Serbia.  

Elsie travelled with the unit which went to Serbia in 1915 and was captured by the Austrians and repatriated to Britain where she began to collect funds to equip a unit to be sent to Russia.   In April 1916 she was awarded the Order of the White Eagle by Crown Prince Alexander of Serbia. 

In 1916 Elsie went with a SWH unit to Odessa in Russia but was forced to return home in 1917 as she had developed cancer.  Elsie died in Newcastle-upon-Tyne immediately following her return to Britain, on 26th November 1917.  She was buried in Dean Cemetery, Dean, west of Edinburgh.

Commemorative events arranged to mark the Centenary of the death of Dr. Inglis are being organised in Scotland.  To find out more, follow this link:


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