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Dr. Robert Lee


1793 - 1877

Pioneering gynaecologist. Born in Melrose, Lee was educated in Galashiels and at the University of Edinburgh. He studied initially for the ministry, but graduated in medicine in 1814 and joined the College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. He took a post at the Royal Infirmary under Prof. James Hamilton (1767 - 1839). In 1817, he moved to London to care for the epileptic son of William Lamb (who later became Prime Minister Lord Melbourne), a post he held for four years. Thereafter he toured the Continent extending his medical education. He returned briefly to London, but then became physician to a Russian Prince and toured the Crimea (1824-25), where he met Czar Alexander. In 1826, he settled in London, where he practised as an obstetrician. He lectured in midwifery and researched into the diseases of women. He was offered, and briefly took up, the Regius Chair of Midwifery at the University of Glasgow but very quickly returned to London, where he taught midwifery at St George's Hospital (1835-66).

A prolific writer, he wrote numerous papers and contributed to the Cyclopaedia of Practical Medicine (1833-35, edited by fellow Scot John Forbes), but his most notable works were Clinical Midwifery (1842) and Three Hundred Consultations in Midwifery (1864), together with Engravings of the Ganglia and Nerves of the Uterus and Heart (1858) and A Treatise on Hysteria (1871). He also wrote Last Days of Alexander and the First Days of Nicholas (1854) based on his time in Russia.

He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society (1830), although he resigned in 1849 following disagreements over the value of his work. He served as Secretary to the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society (1830-35) and was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (1841).

Lee continued in private practice until 1875. He died in Surrey and was buried Kensal Green Cemetery (London), with a memorial in Grange Cemetery in Edinburgh.


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