Sir Andrew Douglas Maclagan (1812-1900)

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(Sir) Douglas Maclagan (as he was usually known) was born in Ayr on 17 April 1812, son of Edinburgh medic David Maclagan (1785-1865), MD, FRSE, and baptised by the same Minister who had baptised the poet Robert Burns over fifty years earlier. He was educated at the Royal High School in Edinburgh, and then studied at the University of Edinburgh where he graduated in 1833. A couple of years later he toured hospitals in London and in continental Europe with Sir James Young Simpson (1811-1870).

On his return, Maclagan was appointed Assistant Surgeon at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh. However, he turned towards materia medica instead, and lectured on this at the Extramural School of Medicine. He also became interested in toxicology, and was a close friend of toxicologist Sir Robert Christison (1797-1882), often assisting him in forensic matters. When the Chair of Medical Jurisprudence and Public Health at Edinburgh University was vacated in 1862, Maclagan was appointed. During his occupancy, he developed the public health scope of the Chair.

Publications include his thesis when a candidate for admission to the Royal College of Surgeons A probationary essay on carbuncle (1833), and Nugae canorae medicae: lays by the poet laureate of the New Town Dispensary (1850).

During his career, Maclagan was President of both the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Surgeons. He was knighted in 1886, and he retired from his Chair in 1897 and died on 5 April 1900.