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Biographical entry MacLeod, Douglas Hamilton (1901 - 1970)

MRCS 1925; FRCS 1928; MRCP 1927; MS London 1928; FRCP 1939; FRCOG 1939; LRCP 1925.

9 May 1901
27 January 1970
Obstetrician and gynaecologist


Douglas MacLeod was born on 9 May 1901. Few families can have devoted so many members to the art of surgery. His great-grandfather, John MacLeod, MD was Surgeon to the Madras Presidency. His grand-father, Alexander Charles MacLeod (1819-1914), father, Charles Edward Alexander MacLeod (1867-1939), and elder brother, Alexander Cameron MacLeod (1899-1970, see previous entry), were all Fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons. His grand-father was also a member of the Royal College of Physicians. He was educated at Haileybury and the Middlesex Hospital, and qualified in 1925, having distinguished himself as a rugger player, playing for the hospital, Middlesex County and the Harlequins.

After success in the MRCP and a medical registrarship he spent a year as resident at Chelsea Hospital for Women, returning to the Middlesex as obstetric and gynaecological registrar in 1929. There is no doubt that Victor Bonney had a great influence on Douglas MacLeod's career and training, and he was a devoted and brilliant pupil. Few gynaecologists achieve Fellowship of all three Royal Colleges and become a Master of Surgery. He was appointed to the consultant staff of St Mary's Hospital, and throughout his teaching career he was immensely popular with students, because of his teaching and because of his interest in their extra-curricular activities, particularly rugger. He was also appointed to the staff of Queen Charlotte's Maternity Hospital, as well as to Putney and the Royal Marsden Hospitals. He was in the Emergency Medical Service from 1939 to 1945, and Commandant at St Mary's. He brought out a booklet of instruction for the medical officers who had to deal with casualties.

MacLeod was Hunterian Professor, Royal College of Surgeons in 1946, and became President of the Obstetric Section of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1958/59. He made many contributions to his specialty, and was co-author of Ten teachers of midwifery and Diseases of women as well as Queen Charlotte's Textbook of obstetrics. With Sir Charles Read he edited Eden and Lockyer's Textbook of gynaecology, and with John Howkins he brought out the last edition of Bonney's Gynaecological surgery.

Apart from his academic brilliance and his dexterity and delicacy of touch in surgical technique, Douglas MacLeod had the gift of making innumerable friends. Few could resist his charm of manner, his graceful appearance and finally his diffidence and shyness. He could not help becoming famous and successful, but he retained his modest character and was particularly well-loved by all his colleagues.

His passion for music was well-known, and the visitor to his house in Edwardes Square might catch a few notes of Bach or Brahms, his favourite composers, but he was too modest to perform in front of his friends. Douglas's other recreation was fishing on the river Frome at his country retreat at the Mill at Stratton in Dorset. In 1933 he married Lesley Francis daughter of the late Martine Ronaldson by whom he had two sons and one daughter. He died suddenly in his consulting rooms in Harley Street on 27 January 1970; he was survived by his family.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1970, 1, 370; 573; Lancet 1970, 1, 314].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England