Open main menu

Macilwain, George (DNB00)


MACILWAIN, GEORGE (1797–1882), medical writer, born in 1797, was the son of an Irish country surgeon, who had been a pupil of John Abernethy (1764-1831) [q. v.] In 1814 he was likewise sent to study under Abernethy at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, and was admitted a member of the Royal College of Surgeons on 4 Sept. 1818, being elected honorary fellow in 1843. For twenty years he was surgeon to the Finsbury Dispensary, and temporarily to the Fever Hospital, being appointed consulting surgeon on his retirement. He was also consulting surgeon to St. Anne's Society schools, and surgeon to the City of London Truss Society. In practice he was opposed to indiscriminate amputation and the use of violent purgatives. He was besides an uncompromising foe to vivisection. In 1871 he gave up his chambers in the Courtyard, Albany, Piccadilly, London, where he had resided since November 1853, and retired to Matching, near Harlow, Essex. He died at Matching on 22 Jan. 1882.

Macilwain was member of the Royal Institution, fellow and for some time vice-president of the Royal Medico-Chirurgical Society, and member of the Royal Irish Academy.

In 1853 Macilwain published rambling but entertaining 'Memoirs of John Abernethy,' 2 vols. 8vo, London, a second edition being called for during the same year. In this compilation he was assisted by Abernethy's family. The third edition (1 vol. 8vo, 1866) contains important additions.

Macilwain's chief medical writings are: 1. 'A Treatise on Stricture of the Urethra,' 8vo, London, 1824; 2nd edition, entitled 'Surgical Observations on . . . Diseases of the Mucous Canals of the Body,' 1830. 2. 'Clinical Observations on the Constitutional Origin of the various Forms of Porrigo,' 8vo, London, 1833. 3. 'Remarks on the Unity of the Body,' 8vo, London, 1836. 4. 'Medicine and Surgery one Inductive Science,' 8vo, London, 1838. 5. 'The General Nature and Treatment of Tumours,' 8vo, London, 1845. 6. 'Remarks on Vivisection,' 8vo, London, 1847. 7. 'A Clinical Memoir on Strangulated Hernia,' 8vo, London, 1858. 8. 'On the Inutility of Cruel Experiments on Living Animals in the Prosecution of Physiological Researches,' 8vo, London, 1860, a reply to the report of the Paris commission on vivisection. 9. 'Remarks on Ovariotomy,' 8vo, London, 1863. 10. 'Surgical Commentaries, first series,' 8vo, London, 1868 ; no more was published. 11. 'Vivisection : being Short Comments on . . . the Evidence given before the Royal Commission,' 8vo, London, 1877.

He also published in the American 'Transylvanian Journal' and the London 'Medical Times' an 'Analysis of Fever, in Lectures.'

[Lancet, 28 Jan. 1882, p. 159 ; Medical Times, 28 Jan. 1882, p. 107 ; Preface to Macilwain's Memoirs of John Abernethy; London and Provincial Medical Directory.]

G. G.