Mackenzie, William (1791-1868) (DNB00)


MACKENZIE, WILLIAM (1791–1868), surgeon, born in Queen Street, Glasgow, on 29 April 1791, was son of James Mackenzie, a muslin manufacturer (d. 1800). He was educated in the grammar school and in the university of his native town. He then turned his attention for a short time to theology, intending to become a minister of the church of Scotland, but in 1810, abandoning divinity, he began the study of medicine in the university of Glasgow and in the Royal Infirmary of that city. In 1813 he was 'resident clerk' to Dr. Richard Miller at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, and in 1815 he obtained the diploma of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons. After a short stay in London, where he attended the lectures given by Abernethy at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, he resided in Paris, Pavia, and Vienna. In Vienna he studied under Von Beer, who encouraged his early bias towards the surgery of the eye. Early in 1818 he returned home. On 1 May of that year he became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, and endeavoured to practise in London. His name appears among the list of members of the college for 1819, when he was living in Newman Street. Failing, however, to establish himself in London, he returned to Glasgow in 1819, and in the same year he took the additional diploma of fellow of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. He also commenced general practice, and lectured upon a variety of medical subjects in Anderson's College, the extra-academical school of medicine in Glasgow. In conjunction with Dr. Monteath he founded the Eye Infirmary in 1824, and in 1828 he was appointed Waltonian lecturer in the university of Glasgow 'on the structure, functions, and diseases of the eye.' In 1833 he proceeded M.D. at Glasgow, and in 1843 he was one of the surgeons upon whom the newly instituted fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of England was conferred honoris causa. His diploma bears the date 11 Dec. 1843. He was appointed surgeon-oculist to the queen in Scotland in 1838. He died at Glasgow, of angina pectoris, on 30 July 1868, leaving a widow and one son.

Mackenzie was one of the surgeons who raised ophthalmic surgery to the high place which it now holds among the special branches of medical science. His scientific attainments are best illustrated by his 'Practical Treatise on the Diseases of the Eye' (1830), which remained the standard book on its subject until the introduction of the ophthalmoscope in 1851 effected a radical change in the diagnosis and treatment of intraocular disease. The book was translated into German in 1832; into French, in an edition which was not authorised by Mackenzie, in 1844, and in an authorised version in 1866; while a supplement, corrected by the author, was issued by Messrs. Warlomont and Testelin at Brussels as lately as 1866. In England four editions were issued, the last appearing in 1854. Mackenzie also wrote the following works upon the eye and its diseases: 1. 'An Essay on the Diseases of the Excreting Parts of the Lachrymal Apparatus,' 8vo, London, 1819. 2. 'The Physiology of Vision,' 8vo, London, 1841. 3. 'The Cure of Strabismus by Surgical Operation,' 8vo, London, 1841. 4. 'On the Vision of Objects on and in the Eye,' Edinburgh, 1845. 6. 'Outlines of Ophthalmology,' 12mo, 3rd edition, 1856. 6. 'Entoptics,' 8vo, 1864. He was editor of the first two volumes of the 'Glasgow Medical Journal,'

There is an excellent oil-painting of Mackenzie in the Eye Infirmary in Glasgow, by Sir Daniel Macnee, P.R.S.A. It has been engraved by Messrs. Maclure and Macdonald, of Glasgow. Another oil-painting in the reading room of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, presented by Mrs. Mackenzie, is a replica of a painting by Alexander Keith, which is in her possession. Mrs. Mackenzie also possesses a marble bust by Mr. George Ewing, a replica of which in freestone adorns the gable on the west front of the New Eye Infirmary in Berkeley Street, Glasgow. Lithograph portraits appeared in the 'Annales d'oculistiques' for 1868 (with obituary notice by Professor Warlomont) and in the 'Memoirs and Portraits of One Hundred Glasgow Men who have died during the last Thirty Years,' Glasgow, 1886.

Mackenzie's medical library is now incorporated with that of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons at Glasgow, and his collection of preparations of the eye is preserved in the medical school of St. Mungo's College. Both these valuable gifts were made by Mackenzie's widow and son.

[Obituary notice by Dr. George Rainey in the Glasgow Medical Journal, 1868, new ser. i. 6-13. Additional facts and dates kindly supplied by Dr. H. E. Clark, professor of anatomy and dean of the medical faculty, St. Mungo's College, Glasgow, and by Mr. W. J. Mackenzie.]

D’A. P.