Record

Authorised form of nameMacewen; Sir; William (1848 - 1924); surgeon
Dates1848 - 1924
NationalityBritish
Place of birthWoodend, a cottage near Port Bannatyne, Rothesay, Isle of Bute, Scotland
Date of birth22 June 1848
Place of deathGlasgow
Date of death22/03/1924
Dates and placesBurial: churchyard of St Blane's Church at Kingarth, Scotland
Occupationsurgeon
Research fieldSurgery
Neurosurgery
Medicine
ActivityEducation: local school in Rothesay; collegiate school in Garnethill (1860); MD (Glasg) (1865-1869); Hon LLD (Glasgow)
Career: Assistant surgeon at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary (1875), promoted to full surgeon (1877); developed a surgical pioneering technique to successfully operate on brain abscesses and hematomas and on the spine (1876); demonstrated it was possible to use a precise clinical examination to determine the possible site of a tumour, or lesion in the brain, by observing its effects on the side and extension of alteration in motor and sensory functions (1876); developed bone grafts, and using a special osteotome [now known as Macewen’s osteotome] in knee surgery, both techniques becoming crucial to treating rickets (1877); performed the first successful intracranial surgery where the site of the lesion was localised solely by the preoperative focal epileptic signs (1879); appointed lecturer on Systematic Surgery at the Royal Infirmary School of Medicine (1881); appointed as Surgeon to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow (1883); Regius Professor of Surgery at the University of Glasgow (the post which Lister had held when Macewen was a student) and transferred his surgical activities to the Western Infirmary (1892); helped found the Princess Louise Scottish Hospital for Limbless Sailors and Soldiers in Erskine (now the Erskine Hospital), Glasgow (1916).
Honours:
Kt 1902
Memberships:
FRCS
President BMA (1922)
Awards/Medals:
Cameron Prize for Therapeutics of the University of Edinburgh (1896)
Membership categoryFellow
Date of election13/06/1895
Age at election47
ProposerAlfred Newton; Alex Macalister; Thomas Lauder Brunton; Henry Charlton Bastian; Joseph Lister; David Ferrier; William Turner; John Cleland; Frederick Orpen Bower; Thomas Ri Fraser; George Murray Humphry; Victor Horsley
William Turner; John Gray McKendrick; Frederick Orpen Bower; John Cleland; William Tennant Gairdner; David Ferrier; William Watson Cheyne
RelationshipsParents: John Macewen (b. 1794), a ship's master, and Janet, née Stevenson.
General contextConsidered the father of neurosurgery. Contributed to the development of bone graft surgery, the surgical treatment of hernia and of pneumonectomy. Also known for endotracheal anaesthesia.
His development of an aseptic procedure for the operating theatre, and his meticulous scientific research methods, heralded the modern era of surgery.
SourcesSources:
Bulloch's Roll; DNB
Obituaries:
Proc Roy Soc Series B 1924 vol 96 pp xxv-xxix signed by W W C
Notes:
Second citation and list of proposers from Supplementary Certificate
Royal Society codeNA2160
Archives associated with this Fellow
Reference numberTitleDate
EC/1895/14 Macewen, Sir William: certificate of election to the Royal Society
EC/1895/15Macewen, Sir William: certificate of election to the Royal Society
RR/17/196Referee's report by Sidney Harris Cox Martin, on a paper 'The rôle of the various elements in the development and regeneration of bone' by William Macewen19 February 1907
NLB/33/106Copy letter from Archibald Geikie, to Sir William Macewen, Fellow of the Royal Society[29] June 1906
NLB/33/107Copy letter from Robert William Frederick Harrison, to Sir William [Macewen], [Fellow of the Royal Society]29 June 1906
NLB/34/375Copy letter from Archibald Geikie, to Sir William Macewen, Fellow of the Royal Society10 January 1907
NLB/34/236Copy letter from Archibald Geikie, to Sir William Macewen, Fellow of the Royal Society14 December 1906
NLB/35/366Copy letter from Robert William Frederick Harrison, to Sir William Macewen, Fellow of the Royal Society23 May 1907
NLB/35/426Copy letter from Robert William Frederick Harrison, to Sir William Macewen, Fellow of the Royal Society31 May 1907
NLB/34/813Copy letter from Archibald Geikie, to Sir William Macewen, Fellow of the Royal Society13 March 1907
NLB/43/396Copy letter from Robert William Frederick Harrison, to Sir William Macewen, Fellow of the Royal Society20 December 1910
NLB/51/18Copy letter from Robert William Frederick Harrison, Assistant Secretary of the Royal Society to Sir William Macewen FRS20 November 1914
RR/17/195Referee's report by Edward Albert Sharpey-Schafer, on a paper 'The rôle of the various elements in the development and regeneration of bone' by William Macewen[February 1907]
NLB/56/359Copy letter from Robert William Frederick Harrison, Assistant Secretary of the Royal Society; to Sir William Macewen, FRS21 January 1919
RR/8/331Referee's report by George Busk, on a paper 'Observations concerning transplantation of bone. Illustrated by a case of inter-human osseous transplantation, whereby over two-thirds of the shaft of a humerus was restored' by William Macewen10 May 1881
NLB/66/309Copy letter from Francis Alexander Towle, Assistant Secretary of the Royal Society; to Sir [William] Watson Cheyne, Bart., FRS7 April 1924
RR/17/197Referee's report by William Watson Cheyne, on a paper 'The rôle of the various elements in the development and regeneration of bone' by William Macewen[March 1907]
NLB/34/551Copy letter from Robert William Frederick Harrison, to Sir William Macewen, Fellow of the Royal Society6 February 1907
NLB/34/842Copy letter from Archibald Geikie, to Sir William Macewen, Fellow of the Royal Society18 March 1907
NLB/66/264Copy letter from Francis Alexander Towle, Assistant Secretary of the Royal Society; to J. Patrick Esq., Charing Cross, Glasgow31 March 1924
RR/25/29Referee's report by William Macewen, on a paper 'Recherches anatomo-cliniques sur les névromes d'amputations douloureux. Nouvelles contributions à l'étude de la régénération nerveuse et du neurotropisme' by G Marinesco[January 1919]
Add to My Items

    Collection highlights

    Browse the records of some of our collections, which cover all branches of science and date from the 12th century onwards. These include the published works of Fellows of the Royal Society, personal papers of eminent scientists, letters and manuscripts sent to the Society or presented at meetings, and administrative records documenting the Society's activities since our foundation in 1660.

    The Royal Society

    The Royal Society is a Fellowship of many of
    the world's most eminent scientists and is the
    oldest scientific academy in continuous existence.
    Registered charity number 207043

    Website design ©CalmView



    CONTACT US

    + 44 207 451 2500
    (Lines open Mon-Fri, 9:00-17:00. Excludes bank holidays)

    6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG

    Email Us →

    SUBSCRIBE

    Subscribe to our newsletters to be updated with the
    latest news on innovation, events, articles and reports.

    Subscribe →

    © CalmView