Dr Alexander Kilgour

28 October 1803 - 19 February 1874

Physician and author.  Clinical lecturer Kings College (1839-1849).  Senior Physician, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (1829). Apart from his clinical practice he contributed to the literature and published a book on the anecdotes of Lord Byron but his major contribution was in establishing sanitary public health policies for Aberdeen.

Dr Alexander Kilgour rose from poverty to become a well liked and greatly respected Aberdeen GP.  He started in practice at the age of 23 in the late 1820s living above his drug shop in the Gallowgate.  Together with Dr Galen, he acted as secretary to the committee of the town council set up in 1840 to investigate the sanitary conditions of the poor.  Kilgour’s view was that cholera was closely related to the existence of open sewers.  

He was responsible for the founding of the Hospital for Incurables, later Morningfield Hospital, and gave his services to the hospital free.

His bust stood for many years opposite that of Dr Matthews Duncan in the graduation hall at Marischal College.
When he died, he left a substantial sum of money to the University which was used to found a Kilgour chair of geology and to provide a number of scholarships in natural science.

Served 12 years as one of the general assessors in University Court.
He became president of Aberdeen Medico-Chirurgical Society.  1837, 1852

Published on a wide range of topics including Lectures on Ordinary Agents of Life as Applicable to Therapeutics and Hygiene: the Uses of the Atmosphere, Habitations, Baths, Clothing, Climate, Exercise, Foods, Drinks, &c. in the Treatment and Prevention of Disease (Edinburgh: Black, 1834).

Image: © Medico-Chirurgical Society of Aberdeen (2007) by permission of NHS Grampian

Biography prepared from the nomination made by Prof G G Youngson to the University of Aberdeen 525 Alumni project.