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King's College London College Archives

MACCORMAC, William (1836-1901)


Reference code(s): GB 0100 TH/PP39

Held at: King's College London College Archives

Title: MACCORMAC, William (1836-1901)

Date(s): 1870-1873

Level of description: Collection (fonds)

Extent: 1 file

Name of creator(s): MacCormac | Sir | William | 1836-1901 | surgeon


Administrative/Biographical history:

William MacCormac was born in Belfast, 17 January 1836, the son of Henry MacCormac, MD and his wife Mary Newsham. He was educated at the Belfast Royal Academical Institution, Queen's College, Belfast where he graduated BA, 1855, MA, 1858, MD, MCh, 1879 and DSc, 1882, winning the gold medal of the university. He also became MRCS (England) 1857, and FRCS (Ireland) 1864. After graduation MacCormac studied surgery in Berlin.
He practised as a surgeon in Belfast from 1864 to 1870, becoming successively surgeon, lecturer on clinical surgery, and consulting surgeon to the Royal Hospital. In 1870 at the outbreak of the Franco-German war, MacCormac volunteered for service. Appointed to hospital duties at Metz, he was treated on his arrival as a spy and returned to Paris, where he joined the Anglo-American association for the care of the wounded. Returning to London at the end of the Franco-German war, he became Assistant Surgeon at St. Thomas's Hospital, which had just moved to the Albert Embankment. He was made full surgeon in 1873 following the resignation of Frederick le Gros Clark (1811-1892), and he was for twenty years lecturer on surgery in the medical school. He was elected consulting surgeon to the hospital and emeritus lecturer on clinical surgery in the medical school on retiring from active work in 1893.
As honorary general secretary, he contributed largely to the success of the seventh International Medical Congress in London in 1881, the `Transactions' of which he edited; he was knighted on 7 Dec. for these services. He was president of the Medical Society of London in 1880 and of the metropolitan counties branch of the British Medical Association in 1890. MacCormac was also surgeon to the French, the Italian, Queen Charlotte's, and the British lying-in hospitals. He was an examiner in surgery at the University of London and for Her Majesty's Naval, Army, and Indian Medical Services. In 1897 he was created a baronet and was appointed surgeon in ordinary to the Prince of Wales, afterwards King Edward VII; on 27 Sept. 1898 he was appointed K.C.V.O. in recognition of professional services rendered to the Prince when he injured his knee.
At the Royal College of Surgeons of England, MacCormac was elected a member of the council in 1883, and in 1887 of the court of examiners. He delivered the Bradshaw lecture in 1893, taking as the subject `Sir Astley Cooper and his Surgical Work,' and he was Hunterian orator in 1899. He was elected president in 1896, and enjoyed the unique honour of re-election on four subsequent occasions, during the last of which he presided over the centenary meeting held on 26 July 1900. His war service was still further extended, and his great practical knowledge was utilised in the South African campaign of 1899-1900, when he was appointed `government consulting surgeon to the field force.' In this capacity he visited all the hospitals in Natal and Cape Colony, and went to the front on four occasions. In 1901 he became K.C.B. for his work in South Africa, and an honorary serjeant-surgeon to King Edward VII.
He married in 1861 Katharine Maria Charters of Belfast. He died at Bath on 4 December 1901.
Publications: Notes and Recollections of an Ambulance Surgeon, being an Account of Work done under the Red Cross during the Campaign of 1870, London 1871; Surgical Operations, part 1, 1885, part 2, 1889, Smith, Elder & Co.: London; An Address to the Students of St. Thomas's Hospital ... October 1st, 1874, J W Kolckmann: London, 1874; On Abdominal Section for the Treatment of Intraperitoneal Injury, 1887; Antiseptic Surgery: an address delivered at St. Thomas's Hospital, with the subsequent debate, Smith, Elder & Co.: London, 1880; The Hunterian Oration. Delivered ... February 14, 1899, Smith, Elder & Co.: London, 1899; An Address of Welcome on the Occasion of the Centenary Festival of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, 1900; with biographical accounts, often with portraits, of the sixty-one masters or presidents.; Transactions of the International Medical Congress. Seventh session held in London ... 1881. Prepared for publication under the direction of the Executive Committee by Sir William Mac Cormac ... assisted by George Henry Makins ... and the secretaries of the sections, J W Kolckmann: London, 1881.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers relating to the application of William MacCormac for the post of assistant surgeon at St Thomas's Hospital, 1870-1871; also letter to MacCormac from S L Wallace, concerning the repayment of a sum of money, May 1873.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

1 file

Conditions governing access:

Open, subject to signature of reader's undertaking form.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Director of Archive and Corporate Record Services.

Physical characteristics:

Finding aids:

Detailed catalogue


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Acquired by St Thomas's Hospital Medical School Library

Immediate source of acquisition:

Transferred from St Thomas' Hospital Medical School Library in 2002


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

Other papers of Sir William MacCormac are held by the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

Publication note:



Archivist's note: Sources: Dictionary of National Biography CD-ROM (Oxford University Press, 1995); Historical Manuscripts Commission's On-Line National Register of Archives. Description compiled by Alison Field

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: January 2004


Personal names
MacCormac | Sir | William | 1836-1901 | surgeon

Corporate names
St Thomas' Hospital | London