Physicians of Harris

Here we have the gentlemen who were practising medicine on Harris at the time of each census:

Robert Clark, 50, Doctor, Scarista, b. Scotland
Wife and 7 children, aged 3months to 12 years, six youngest all born on Harris in past 11 years

Robert Clark, 53, General Practitioner(unreadable), Head, Nissishee, b. Inverchaolain, Argyllshire

1861 None listed
1871 None Listed

Hamilton C Reid, 34, Physician and Surgeon, Head, East Tarbert 43, b. Ayr, Ayrshire
James Stewart, 22, Physician and Surgeon, Head, Kintulavig, b. Fontingail(?), Perthshire

(Isabella Clark, 43, Doctor’s Daughter, Niece, 12 North Beach Street, Stornoway, b. Harris)
(Murdoch Macpherson, 68, Retired Sea Captain)

James Stewart, 40, Physician and Surgeon, Head, No 15 West Tarbert, b. Aberfeldy, Perthshire

W H Ferrier, 35, Physician, Head, Kintulavig

George Christian, 45 Doctor of Medicine, Lodger, Berneray, b. India

From the birthplaces of his children we can be sure that Robert Clark was practising from 1830 until at least 1851. It is unfortunate that no physicians were resident at the time of the 1861 and 1871 censuses but I can say that James Stewart (or, at least his wife!) arrived post-1876 which was when his son had been born in England. I should also add that, despite the apparent disparity in James’ ages, he was indeed one and the same person.

I have been informed by a lady, who is an expert in the history of Medicine in the Highlands and Islands, that it was typical that no doctors were resident in 1861/71. It was the same throughout the Highlands and Islands and physician’s were generally scarce until after WW1. It was why traditional medicine survived so long in area – not through whimsy, but through sheer necessity. The 1912 Dewar Report was the turning point.
She also mentioned that almost all the General Practitioners serving rural areas of the Highlands and Islands at the time were extremely dedicated and self-sacrificing, having very little income, etc.
(With Thanks to MB)


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