Lives of the fellows

David White Finlay

b.1 September 1840 d.4 November 1923
BA Glasg(1860) MD Hon LLD Yale Aberd DPH Cantab FRCP(1885) FRS Edin

David Finlay was born in Glasgow and educated at the High School and University. He graduated in arts in 1860 and in medicine four years later. The next few years were spent mainly in travel abroad, but in 1873, after renewing his studies at Vienna, he began his career in London, acting as physician to the St. George’s and St. James’s Dispensary and holding resident posts first at the Stone Hospital and then at the Middlesex Hospital. At the latter, he became assistant physician in 1879 and physician in 1884 and lectured on forensic medicine and public health (1881-91) and on practical medicine (1884-91). He was also physician to the Royal Hospital for Diseases of the Chest from 1876 to 1891 and to the Royal Scottish Hospital.

In 1891 Finlay left London to take up the appointments of Regius professor of medicine at Aberdeen University and physician to the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. He represented the University at the Yale bicentenary celebrations in 1900 and on the General Medical Council from 1901 to 1911, and became dean of the faculty of medicine in 1907. Edward VII appointed him Honorary Physician to the King in Scotland in 1908 and three years later George V renewed the honour. Finlay retired to Helensburgh in 1912, but returned to work on the outbreak of war in 1914, as commandant of the Scottish National Red Cross Hospital, Bella-houston, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. During this period, he was examiner in medicine for Glasgow University. As a teacher "Dauvit" — as he was known to Aberdeen students — paid a perhaps exaggerated attention to detail. But, if exacting, he was also good-humoured; and his insistence on the careful observation of disease paid ample dividends. Sailing was his recreation and he published several books on the subject, including Reminiscences of Yacht Racing and Some Racing Yachts (1910). While in London, Finlay married Catharine Mary, eldest daughter of Stephen Thompson, a shipowner, by whom he had two sons and four daughters. He died at Helensburgh.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1923; B.M.J., 1923; Middlesex Hospital Journal, 1923-24, xxiv, 110; Presidential Address to R.C.P., 1924, 22]

(Volume IV, page 301)

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