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Biographical entry Maclay, Charles Workman (1913 - 1978)

MRCS and FRCS 1941; BSc 1933; MB ChB Glasgow 1936; FRCS Ed 1940; FRFPS Glas 1943.

4 November 1913
12 April 1978
Anatomist and General surgeon


Charles Workman Maclay was born in Glasgow on 4 November 1913 and educated at Glasgow Academy and at Strathallan where he won a gold medal and was dux of the school. As a student at Glasgow University he won the Lorimer Bursary in anatomy and physiology, the Macleod Gold Medal in surgery, and the Asher-Asher Gold Medal in diseases of the ear, nose, and throat. He graduated BSc in 1933 and MB ChB in 1936 and took the FRCS Edinburgh in 1940, the FRCS England in 1941 and FRFPS Glasgow in 1943. His early interest in anatomy was confirmed by his appointment as senior demonstrator and lecturer in anatomy at King's College, London University, only one year after graduation. Yet he continued to be attracted by general surgery and was a surgical specialist, RAMC, between 1939 and 1947. He took part in the Normandy landing and subsequent invasion of Europe and was demobilized with the permanent rank of Major. During these years and later he contributed papers to medical and scientific journals. He was appointed consultant surgeon to the Boston Combined Hospitals, Lincolnshire, in 1948 but resigned in 1957 and emigrated to South Africa, to which he was lured by the especial problems of the third world and by his passionate desire to contribute towards the betterment of underprivileged people. He had a good command of French and German, some knowledge of Italian and Afrikaans, and eventually an ability in certain African languages or dialects.

In 1964 he forsook his private and hospital practices in Natal to become senior lecturer in anatomy in the Durban Medical School, University of Natal, where he taught with distinction for five years before accepting the post of senior lecturer in anatomy at the University of Cape Town. He evolved a large series of diagrams for teaching gross anatomy, neuroanatomy, and embryology, and also a masterpiece of concise instruction in applied anatomy. He married in 1938 Mary Russell who trained as a nurse in Glasgow's Victoria Infirmary and they had two sons. He died on 12 April 1978, aged 64 years.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1978, 2, 778].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England