World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Elsie Inglis

Elsie Maud Inglis
Elsie Inglis
Born (1864-08-16)16 August 1864
Naini Tal, India
Died 26 November 1917(1917-11-26) (aged 53)
Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
Nationality British
Other names The Lady with the Torch
Alma mater University of Edinburgh
Occupation Doctor
Known for Suffragist; World War I doctor
Plaque marking Elsie Inglis' surgery, Walker Street, Edinburgh

Elsie Inglis (16 August 1864 – 26 November 1917) was an innovative Scottish doctor and suffragist.


  • Education 1
  • Medical practice 2
  • World War I 3
  • Honours 4
  • Death and burial 5
  • Memorials 6
  • Archives 7
  • References 8
  • Sources 9
  • Further reading 10


She was born in the hill station town of Naini Tal, India, to John Forbes David Inglis who worked in the Indian civil service as Chief Commissioner of Oudh. She had the good fortune to have relatively enlightened parents for the time who considered the education of a daughter as important as that of the son. After a private education her decision to study medicine was delayed by her mother's death in 1885, when she felt obliged to stay in Edinburgh with her father. However, the next year the Edinburgh School of Medicine for Women was opened by Dr Sophia Jex-Blake and Inglis started her studies there. After founding her own breakaway medical college as a reaction to Jex-Blake's uncompromising ways, she completed her training under Sir William Macewen at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

She qualified as a licentiate of both the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Edinburgh, and the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow in 1892. She was appalled by the general standard of care and lack of specialisation in the needs of female patients, but was able to obtain a post at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson's pioneering New Hospital for Women in London, and then at the Rotunda in Dublin, a leading maternity hospital.

Medical practice

She returned to Edinburgh in 1894 where she set up a medical practice with Jessie MacLaren MacGregor, who had been a fellow student, and also opened a maternity hospital (The Hospice) for poor women alongside a midwifery resource centre, which was a forerunner of the Elsie Inglis Memorial Hospital. The Hospice was within 219 High Street, on the Royal Mile, close to Cockburn Street[1]

A philanthropist, she often waived the fees owed to her and would pay for her patients to recuperate by the sea-side. She was a consultant at Bruntsfield Hospital for women and children, and despite a disagreement between Inglis and the hospital management, the Hospice joined forces with them in 1910.

Her dissatisfaction with the standard of medical care available to women led to her becoming politically active. She was the secretary of the Edinburgh National Society for Women's Suffrage in the 1890s[2] and she played a role in the early years of the Scottish Federation of Women's Suffrage Societies, acting as honorary secretary from 1906 to 1914.[3]

World War I

Grave of Dr. Elsie Inglis

Despite her already notable achievements it was her efforts during the Serbia and Russia.

When Elsie Inglis approached the Royal Army Medical Corps to offer them a ready-made Medical Unit staffed by qualified women, the War Office told her "My good lady, go home and sit still". It was, instead, the French government that took up her offer and established her unit in Serbia.[4]

Elsie Inglis, herself, went with the teams sent to

  • Elsie Inglis: The Woman with the Torch at Project Gutenberg
  • Leneman, Leah (1998). Elsie Inglis: Founder of battlefront hospitals run entirely by women. NMS Publishing Limited. ISBN 1-901663-09-4

Further reading

  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  • Short biography
  • Bruntsfield Hospital and Elsie Inglis Memorial Maternity Hospital (Lothian Health Services Archive)
  • archivesThe Scotsman


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ Leah Leneman, 'Inglis, Elsie Maud (1864–1917)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 6 June 2015
  3. ^ Lovejoy, Esther Pohl (1957). Women Doctors of the World. New York: Macmillan. p. 288. 
  4. ^ Beauman, Nicola (2008). A very great profession : the woman's novel 1914–1939 (rev.ed. ed.). London: Persephone Books. p. 23.  
  5. ^ a b "Serbian White Eagle: Scotswoman as the first woman recipient", Aberdeen Journal, 15 April 1916 
  6. ^ "Calls to restore 'forgotten' Elsie Inglis grave", Edinburgh Evening News, 8 November 2013, retrieved 11 February 2014 
  7. ^ Medals and papers of Dr Elsie Inglis (PDF), Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh Library & Archive, 2009, retrieved 11 February 2014 
  8. ^ "Serbia honours life of war doctor Elsie Inglis". Edinburgh Evening News. 17 March 2015. Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  9. ^ "Banknote designs mark Homecoming". BBC News. 14 January 2008. Retrieved 20 January 2009. 
  10. ^ : "Bank proves Elsie Inglis was woman of (£50) note"The Scotsman.


The former Elsie Inglis Memorial Maternity Hospital

The archives of the Scottish Women's Hospitals for Foreign Service are held at The Women's Library at the Library of the London School of Economics, ref 2SWH


Her main physical memorial was the building of the Elsie Inglis Memorial Hospital in 1925 (see separate article). This primarily ran as a maternity hospital and thereby had a female-only patient base. Many Edinburgh children were born there during the 20th century. It was closed by the National Health Service in 1988 and sold off. Part is now an old folks home, part is private housing and parts are demolished. It is no longer recognisable as a hospital. A small plaque to Elsie Inglis exists near the south-west corner at the entrance to Holyrood Park.[1]

Elsie Inglis was commemorated on a new series of banknotes issued by the Clydesdale Bank in 2009; her image appeared on the new issue of £50 notes.[9][10]

In March 2015, the British Residence in Belgrade was renamed 'Elsie Inglis House' in recognition of her work in the country.[8]

A plaque marking her pre-war surgery from 1898 to 1914 was erected at 8 Walker Street, Edinburgh.

A memorial fountain was erected in her memory in Mladenovac, Serbia, commemorating her work for the country.

In 1922 a large tablet to her memory (sculpted by Pilkington Jackson) was erected in the north aisle of St Giles Cathedral, in Edinburgh.


She is buried in the north section of Dean Cemetery, on a corner north of the central path.

A separate memorial service was held on 30 November at St Margarets Church in Westminster, London.

She died on 26 November 1917, the day after she arrived back in the UK, at the Station Hotel Newcastle upon Tyne. Her funeral service at St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh on 29 November was "the occasion of an impressive public tribute", according to The Scotsman. Winston Churchill said of Inglis and her nurses "they will shine in history".

Elsie Inglis Memorial, Mladenovac Serbia
Elsie Inglis Memorial, Mladenovac Serbia
Elsie Inglis Memorial in north aisle of St Giles Cathedral Edinburgh

Death and burial

In April 1916, Elsie Inglis became the first woman to be awarded the Order of the White Eagle (V class) by the Crown Prince of Serbia at a ceremony in London.[5][6][7] She had previously been awarded the Order of Saint Sava (III class).[5]

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.