Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry Macleod, Kenneth (1840 - 1922)

Hon FRCS July 25th 1900; AM Marischal College Aberdeen 1857; LM 1861; LRCS Edin 1864; FRCS Edin 1880; Hon MD Edin 1861; LLD 1892.

23 July 1840
North Uist
17 December 1922
General surgeon


Born at Trumisgary Manse in the island of North Uist, Outer Hebrides, on July 23rd, 1840, the eldest son of the Rev Norman Macleod, who in the disruption of 1843 on the question of patronage seceded from the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and remained in North Uist as a 'Free Church Minister'. The name is of Scandinavian origin (see Scott's Lord of the Isles), but he is not to be confused with the Norman Macleods, father and son, whose biographies are in the Dictionary of National Biography.

Kenneth Macleod entered Marischal College at 13 in 1853, and in 1857 began his medical studies at the University of Edinburgh, where he took first prizes in surgery, medicine, midwifery, and medical jurisprudence. After graduating he was for a year and a half Assistant Medical Officer in the Durham County Asylum, during which time he published Practicable Mental Science (8vo, 1863). Competition for the Indian Medical Service having been reopened, after a closure of some years, Macleod passed first of seventy candidates and was commissioned Assistant Surgeon on April 1st, 1865, taking the course at the Army Medical School at Netley, as was then the custom.

Macleod first served as Civil Surgeon at Jessore, Bengal, and submitted a Report on the Epizootic Diseases of Cattle in Lower Bengal, in which he showed that the common cattle disease of India was rinderpest (fol, Calcutta, 1867). In October, 1868, he became Medical Officer of the 6th Bengal Infantry at Jalpaiguri. In December, 1869, he was put on the Cattle Plague Commission, He also published at this period: Medico-legal Experiences in the Bengal Presidency, being a Report on the Medico-legal Returns received from the Civil Surgeons of Bengal during the Years 1868 and 1869 (12mo, Calcutta, 1875).

This routine service in the IMS as Civil and Regimental Surgeon occupied less than four years. He was appointed Secretary to the Inspector-General of Hospitals in 1872, a title which was changed to Director-General in 1875. Macleod held the post until 1879. During the latter part of this period he began to act as Professor of Anatomy in the Calcutta Medical College and as Second Surgeon to the College Hospital. On Dec 31st, 1879, he became Professor of Surgery and First Surgeon, posts which he held until his retirement on April 15th, 1892. This appointment gave him opportunities for a large private practice as a Surgeon; he also published Operative Surgery in the Calcutta Medical College Hospital: Statistics, Cases and Comments (8vo, 5 plates, London, 1885).

Macleod found time for much public work. He acted from 1879-1884 as Consulting Health Officer of Calcutta. In 1885 he was elected Municipal Commissioner for Park Street Ward, the chief European Ward in Calcutta. He founded the Calcutta Medical Society in January, 1880, was the first Secretary with Robert Harvey as his colleague. and was later its President. He was also at various times President of the Calcutta Public Health Society; Vice-President of the Bengal Social Science Association, and of the National Indian Association, Bengal Branch; President of a Committee which originated a Veterinary School in Calcutta; and before he left India in 1892 the foundation stone of the Bengal Veterinary College was laid by Sir Charles Elliott. He was also Secretary and Medical Officer of the Martiniere Schools in Calcutta. From 1871-1892 he acted as editor of the Indian Medical Gazette.

He had been promoted to the rank of Brigade Surgeon on June 26th, 1888, and later Colonel IMS. He retired on April 15th, 1892, and in England served as a Member of the Medical Board of the India Office, first under Sir Joseph Fayrer (qv) and then under Sir William Hooper (qv), till he was appointed Professor of Clinical Military Medicine at the Army Medical School, Netley, in August, 1897, a post he held until July, 1905. The Netley School was transferred to Millbank, Westminster, in 1905. He also followed Sir Joseph Fayrer as President of the Sanitary Assurance Association. He was besides a Vice-President of the Medical College and Policlinic, and President of the Section of Tropical Medicine at the Ipswich Meeting of the British Medical Association in 1900.

A man of fine physique and strong constitution, he was able to get through an immense amount of work, professional and public, for twenty years in Calcutta, whilst his skill as a surgeon brought him a large private practice. Somewhat brusque in manner, he was a good friend to junior officers.

He died at Duncaple, West End, Southampton, on Dec 17th, 1922. He was twice married, first in 1865 to Jemima Isabella MacDonald, who died in 1874, leaving three daughters, two sons having died in infancy. By his second marriage in 1877 with Jane Christie Aitken he had three daughters and four sons, three of whom served with distinction in the War, 1914-1918. His portrait is in the Honorary Fellows' Album.

Besides those mentioned above, MacLeod made numerous publications and was editor of the Indian Med Gaz from 1871-1892.
"Medical Education in India." - Caledonian Med Jour, 1908, xxiii, 8.
Indian Medical Memories.
History of the Medical Schools of the Bengal Presidency, 1872.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Crawford's History of the Indian Medical Service, 2 vols, London, 1914. Lancet, 1922, ii, 1403. Brit Med Jour, 1922, ii, 1246].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England