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Biographical entry Rae, Sir William (1786 - 1878)

CB, 1855; Knight Bachelor, 1858; MRCS, Nov 15th, 1811; FRCS, Dec 11th, 1843, one of the original 300 Fellows; Ext LRCP Lond, 1839; MD Edin.

General surgeon


Son of Matthew Rae, of Park End, Dumfries; was educated at Lochmaben and Dumfries, and graduated MD at Edinburgh University. He entered the Medical Service of the East India Company in 1804 and was transferred as Surgeon to the Royal Navy in 1805. He served first in the Culloden, and in 1807 when in the Fox he took part in the destruction of the Dutch ships at Gressic in Java. When the squadron was subsequently becalmed in the Bay of Bengal, Rae contrived an apparatus to distil water. In 1812-1818, when he was serving in the Leyden, he treated successfully the troops suffering from yellow fever at Cartagena and Gibraltar, and received the thanks of the Commander-in-Chief and the Medical Board. He was appointed to the Bermuda station in 1824, and ultimately attained the rank of Inspector-General of Hospitals and Fleets.

He retired on a pension to a country practice, Trafalgar Lawn, Barnstaple, moving afterwards to Hornby Lodge, Newton Abbot, where he died on April 8th, 1873. He was buried at Wolborough.

Rae married: (1) in 1814 Mary, daughter of Robert Bell, and (2) in 1831 Maria, daughter of Assistant Commissary-General R Lee.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Dict. Nat. Biog., sub nomine et auct. ibi cit].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England