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Obituary Of Dr. Mackellar

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Obituary Of Dr. Mackellar

Post by Karen on Sat 27 Feb 2010 - 20:38

Dr. Alexander Mackellar attended the post-mortem examination of Alice McKenzie, murdered on July 17, 1889. Not all experts believe that McKenzie was murdered by Jack the Ripper, but her injuries did show some level of anatomical knowledge, and were similar in nature to the rest of the Ripper's victims.


Late Surgeon to St. Thomas's Hospital and Chief Surgeon to the Metropolitan Police.

ALEXANDER OBERLIN MACKELLAR was born on December 29th, 1845, at Berbice, New Amsterdam, British Guiana. He was a posthumous child; his father who was a missionary having died of yellow fever six months before his birth. At the age of six months, he was brought to England, and lived with an uncle who looked after his early training until the age of ten. He was educated at Silcott's Grammar School and Owen's College, Manchester. His medical school was at Owen's College and the Royal Infirmary, Manchester; but he also studied at Queen's College, Belfast; University College, London; Paris; and Vienna. He took the diplomas of L.S.A. and M.R.C.S. Eng in 1867, and graduated as M.D. and M.Ch., Royal University of Ireland in 1869.
After some time spent in travel he served in 1868-9 as medical officer in charge of military and naval invalids from China, East Indies, Mauritius, and the Cape. He served as ambulance surgeon in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1. It was there he met the late Sir William MacCormac, and formed a friendship which had a very important bearing on his future career. He was present at Metz, Sedan, Coulmier, Orleans, etc. At the close of the war he was selected by Surgeon-General Langenbeck to accompany him on his tour of official inspection of the military hospitals throughout Germany and the parts of France occupied by the German troops. For the important services he rendered he was made a Knight of the Military Order of Merit of Bavaria.
In February 1872, he was appointed Senior Resident Medical Officer to the Royal Free Hospital. In 1873, having taken the Fellowship of the College of Surgeons of England, he was elected Resident Assistant Surgeon at St. Thomas's Hospital, which post he held until February, 1876, when he was elected Assistant Surgeon. He acted as Surgeon-in-Chief of the English Ambulance during the Turco-Servian War of 1876, being present at nearly all the important general actions of that campaign. For this service he was made a Knight of the Gold Cross of Takovo. In the next year he had further opportunities of adding to his already extensive experience of military surgery, for he acted as consulting surgeon to the 5th ambulance of the Red Crescent, operating in Plevna and on Plevna lines. He was made a Knight of the Order of Medjidieh in connexion with this war. His courage and intrepidity in attending to the wounded excited the admiration of all those who worked along with him. The late Mr. Archibald Forbes graphically describes his fearlessness. One day a fragment of a shell came through the roof of the room and narrowly missed him as he was operating. He turned round, and saying that was a close shave, went steadily on with his operation as if nothing had happened.
Mackellar's promotion at St. Thomas's was exceptionally rapid. At the age of 41 he became full Surgeon, and when 48 he was Senior Surgeon on the staff. He held the post of Lecturer on Practical Surgery and Teacher of Operative Surgery for twenty-two years, and for many years was Lecturer on Forensic Medicine. He was an excellent teacher and a skilful operator. He was Examiner in Surgery and Clinical Surgery in the University of Glasgow. In 1885 he succeeded Mr. Timothy Holmes as Surgeon-in-Chief to the Metropolitan Police, which appointment he continued to hold at the time of his death. He threw himself heart and soul into the work of this post. The esteem in which he was held at Scotland Yard is shown by the following memorandum which the Chief Commissioner has issued concerning his death:

The committee desires to place on record his sense of the great loss which the Metropolitan Police has sustained by the death of their Chief Surgeon.
Mr. A.O. Mackellar joined the service nearly twenty years ago with the reputation of being a most skilful surgeon, and with much war service in charge of ambulance hospitals in the Franco-Prussian, Turco-Servian, and Russo-Turkish wars, and the value of the work he did was recognized by the decorations bestowed by the German, Turkish, and Servian Governments.
The experience he had gained by his connexion of twenty years with the Metropolitan Police rendered him invaluable as an adviser to the Commissioner on medical questions affecting the force.
(Signed) E.R. Henry

Mr. Mackellar had a very severe attack of acute pneumonia in the winter of 1895, and since that time he never enjoyed robust health. Last year he gave up his house in London and retired to Pinner, where he died after a short illness on June 15th at the comparatively early age of 58. He will be missed by a large circle of friends, who will remember him as a kind warm-hearted man and genial companion. He leaves a widow to deplore his loss.

Source: The British Medical Journal, July 9, 1904, page 100-1

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