Wolverhampton BTW

Andrew Douglas

Douglas, Andrew, c.1736—1806

by Benjamin Colbert

Andrew Douglas, physician, was born in Teviotdale, Roxburghshire, and received a medical education at Edinburgh. He was appointed a surgeon in the navy in 1756, and served several years. Afterwards he was a surgeon at Deal, where he married Mary Carter, the younger half-sister of the poet and translator Elizabeth Carter (1707-1806; ODNB). At some point, he left Deal for Edinburgh to complete his education, graduating Doctor of Medicine in 1775. He was admitted as a Licentiate of the College of Physicians on 30 September 1776.

From this time, Douglas settled in London, except for September to June 1778, the period of an unsuccessful negotiation with Eleazar Davy (1724-1803) for the lease of a house in Yoxford, Suffolk, where, Douglas wrote, his wife would ‘be impatient to transport herself from the noise & smoke of town [London], to the green fields & quiet of this sweet spot’, and Mary Douglas herself lamented the necessity of leaving ‘a country to whose air I am so much indebted’. Back in London, Douglas served as physician to Elizabeth Carter and her circles, but also earned a reputation for himself in midwifery. He became a Physician to Charity for Delivering Poor Married Women and contributed to the literature of midwifery with his Observations on an Extraordinary Case of Ruptured Uterus (1785).

After the death of his first wife, Douglas married the widow, Mary Sharpe Beauvoir, herself a friend and former travelling companion of his sister-in-law, Elizabeth Carter. As a wealthy heiress, the new Mary Douglas allowed Douglas to give up his practice, and the Douglases travelled on the continent from 1792 to 1796, partly to improve Mary Douglas’s health. Prevented from returning overland through France, Douglas successfully petitioned the French Directory for an exception, and had privately printed both his and his wife’s journals of this journey as Notes of a Journey from Berne to England.

From 1800, the Douglases settled at Ednam House, Roxburghshire. It was on a journey from there in June 1806, that Andrew died at Buxton, on 11 June 1806, after short illness.


‘A. Douglas.’ Notes & Queries 1, 3rd s. (21 June 1862): 488. Print.

Douglas, Andrew, and Mary Douglas. Miscellaneous Original Letters. Vol 2. Add MS 19243, ff. 151-57. British Lib., London.

Moore, Norman, and Michael Bevan. 'Douglas, Andrew (1735/6–1806), physician and man-midwife'. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 23 Sept. 2004. Oxford University Press. Web. 28 Aug. 2017. https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/7859

[‘Deaths in the Year 1806’]. Annual Register 48 (1806): 537-38. Print.


Title Published
Notes of a Journey from Berne to England, through France 1797

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