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Biographical entry MacWatt, Sir Robert Charles (1865 - 1945)

KB 1925; CIE 1916; K-i-H 1908; MRCS and FRCS 14 December 1911; MB ChB Edinburgh 1886; BSc public health 1897; FRCP Edinburgh 1925.

22 January 1865
Duns, Berwickshire
14 April 1945
Military surgeon


Born on 22 January 1865 at Duns, Berwickshire, third son of Robert Charles MacWatt, MD, who practised there, and Ann Logan, his wife. He was educated at Edinburgh Academy and University, and commissioned surgeon in the Indian Medical Service on 1 October 1887. He served on the North-West Frontier and won the Hazara expedition medal and clasps 1888, and further clasps for Lushai, North-East Frontier, 1889, and in 1891 Hazara again and second Miranzai, North-West Frontier, expedition. MacWatt was promoted major on 1 October 1899 and lieutenant-colonel on 1 October 1907, and received the Kaisar-i-Hind medal, first class, at the New Year honours 1908. In 1911 he took the English Fellowship, though not previously a Member of the College. He was placed in the special list for promotion on 1 April 1915, was created CIE in the New Year honours 1916, and promoted colonel on 8 January 1918, and appointed Inspector-General of Civil Hospitals in the Punjab. On 23 January 1918 he was promoted major-general and appointed Director-General of the IMS. MacWatt was knighted at the New Year 1925, and retired on 1 October 1926. He had served as an honorary surgeon to King George V, and was elected an FRCP Edinburgh in 1925. MacWatt was held in affectionate admiration in the IMS. He was an unassuming, friendly, democratic officer, always ready to consult subordinates who had special knowledge or experience. He was a close friend of General Sir Ganga Singh, Maharaja of Bikanir for nearly fifty years. After retirement MacWatt was often consulted by his Highness on medical and sanitary improvements for his State.

After he came back to England MacWatt lived at Highwood House, Kingston Hill, Surrey, and was a member of the Royal Thames Yacht Club. He married twice: (1) in 1892 Blanche Mathilde, daughter of Lieutenant-General S F Blyth, CB; she died in 1924, survived by two sons; (2) in 1944 the widow of Colonel Richard C Wilson. He was taken ill in a cinema at Kingston on 14 April 1945 and died in hospital later the same day, aged 80. MacWatt was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical and the Zoological Societies.


Gunshot wounds of the lung Brit med J 1891, 2, 12.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Crawford's Roll of the LMS Bengal list No 2264; The Times 17 April 1945 p 6f; Lancet 1945, 1, 612; Brit med J, 1945, 1, 683; information given by son, Major S L MacWatt, DSO MC RA and RTR].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England