William Smellie, Man-midwife

College Library

The famous man-midwife, William Smellie, was born in Lesmahagow near Lanark in 1697.  Following education at the Grammar School in Lanark he was apprenticed to an apothecary, William Inglis.  He continued his medical training by joining the Royal Navy as a Surgeon’s Mate and, on his return from sea, set up practice in Lanark.  He had a great interest in obstetrics and noted down all of the interesting cases that he came across.  Some of these were later included in his work Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Midwifery.

Smellie became a member of the Faculty (now Royal College) of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow on 5 May 1733.  Joining the Faculty enabled him to gain contact with fellow medical practitioners and allowed him the benefits of the Faculty Library where he could learn more about the advances being made in medical science.

In 1739 he moved to London…

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