Elizabeth Crichton

(Elizabeth Grierson)

1779 - 1862

Founder of the Crichton Royal Hospital in Dumfries. She was born at Rockhall (Dumfries and Galloway) the daughter of Sir Robert Grierson, the 5th Baronet of Lag and Rockhall. Although fourteen years his junior, in 1810, she married Dr James Crichton (1765 - 1823) a physician who made his fortune with the East India Company. He left a substantial sum to found a College in Dumfries but, although Elizabeth worked hard to bring about Scotland's fifth university, there was much opposition and it was eventually the Crichton Royal Hospital which she founded with the money. Intended to be the best in Europe, this was to prove a model for the care of psychiatric patients, who were housed in pavilions within a parkland setting, rather than the large anonymous asylums which were normal at the time. The Crichton soon became known for its enlightened treatment of its patients, with art, drama, and music therapy all instituted in the 1840s. From 1995, the hospital became the Crichton Campus, finally realising Crichton's wish for a university campus.

Crichton remained closely involved with the running of the hospital throughout her life. She died at her home, Friars' Carse, and was buried in St. Michael's kirkyard, Dumfries. Her statue was erected on the Crichton Campus in 2000, unveiled by HRH Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay.

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