Professor Robert Dyce

30 November 1798 - 11 January 1869

First Professor of Midwifery, University of Aberdeen

MA at Marischal College (1816)

Born in Aberdeen on 1798, Robert Dyce lived with his parents (father was Dr William Dyce, physician to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and President of the Aberdeen Medico-Chirurgical Society).  Robert was brother to William, a famous artist and one of the founders of the Royal School of Art in London. Robert enlisted in the army at the Military Hospital at Chatham and joined the medical staff in Mauritius in 1821, also serving in the Cape of Good Hope until 1833. From 1833 to 1836 he worked in a military hospital at Maidstone in Kent before returning to Aberdeen as Lecturer and later Professor in Midwifery. He was an early proponent and advocate of obstetric care in Aberdeen.

He died in Edinburgh and is buried in St Nicolas kirkyard, Aberdeen.

Extract from obituary in the Aberdeen Journal, Wednesday, 13 January 1869

“Our readers will observe with sorrow, in our obituary of this day, the death of Dr Dyce, one of our senior physicians, and Professor of Midwifery in the University of Aberdeen. He had been ailing for some weeks, but intermitted none of his duties, not even night work, which probably overtasked his strength. Last Thursday evening, at a meeting of his brethren, he said he had come with some difficulty, feeling unwell; and next day he went to Edinburgh to take medical advice. Sir James Simpson and Dr Begbie found it a case of acute inflammation of the lungs. He suffered much, but it was hoped he might be able in few days to return home. Indeed, until within hour or two of his death, no visible change for the worse had taken place; but at half-past five on Monday evening he breathed his last. Dr Dyce was the eldest son of the late Dr William Dyce of this city.

"In 1841, he was appointed Lecturer on Midwifery in Marischal College, and on the union of the two Colleges, and their erection into the University of Aberdeen, in 1860, this Lectureship was converted into a Professorship, and Dyce appointed first Professor. His large experience and skill in the special department to which his Chair related gave him great weight, and caused him to he looked up to as an authority, while his gentlemanly bearing and winning manner were everywhere recognised. How much he gave away to the poor, in the shape of gratuitous attendance, was known only to his family and immediate friends. To one benevolent Institution he gave gratuitous and very self-denying attendance for a period of five or six years—in fact, up to the period of his death—for which those who have charge of it have all along felt deep gratitude.

"We may add that, as a Professor, we have reason to know that he was much beloved by the students, who admired his perspicuous style of lecturing, while they felt the kindness with which he uniformly treated them. We understand that in his special branch he contributed valuable papers from time to time to the medical periodicals. From the commencement of his practice in Aberdeen, Dr Dyce acted as Physician to Gordon’s Hospital, and up to within the last few years he held the important position of Physician to the Royal Infirmary, on his retirement from which he was appointed Consulting Physician.”  

image: Photograph after a painting; Wellcome Collection no. 13882i Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Biography prepared from the nomination made to the University of Aberdeen 525 Alumni project.