Lives of the fellows

Ewen John (Sir) Maclean

b.17 October 1865 d.13 October 1953
TD MD Edin Hon MD Melb Hon DSc Manch Hon LLD Edin Wales FRCP(1922) FRS Edin Hon FRCOG Hon FACS JP DL

Although his parents were of Highland descent, Ewen Maclean, second son of John Maclean, was brought up at Carmarthen and went to Haverfordwest and Carmarthen Grammar Schools as a boy. He studied medicine at Edinburgh University, however, and graduated there in 1889. He held junior appointments at the Bristol Hospital for Women and Children and at the Chelsea Hospital for Women and Children, and served as assistant physician to the latter and as physician-accoucheur to the St. Pancras and Northern Dispensary before settling in Cardiff as an obstetric physician. In 1901 he was appointed gynaecologist to the Cardiff Royal Infirmary, from which he was to retire thirty years later as its consulting gynaecologist. He lectured on midwifery at the University College of South Wales and in 1921 was chosen as the first professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the Welsh National School of Medicine; he relinquished this office too in 1931, when he was elected emeritus professor.

A pre-war Territorial officer, Maclean served during the 1914-1918 War with the 3rd Western General Hospital at Cardiff, which he later commanded, and as commanding officer of the Eaton Hall Hospital for Officers, attaining the rank of lieutenant-colonel. In the Second World War he acted as inspector of hospitals for Wales for the Red Cross and St. John Joint War Organisation.

Maclean was not only a leading gynaecologist but a first-class administrator, and much of his time was given to the affairs of medical organisations. As chairman of the Representative Body of the B.M.A. from 1910 to 1912, he propounded the Association’s case in the controversy over the first National Health Insurance Act and presided with tactful firmness over Lloyd George’s historic visit to the Representative Body; however, the Liberal politics of his brother Sir Donald Maclean, M.P, later president of the Board of Education, and the latter’s friendship with Lloyd George, proved insuperable embarrassments, and his resignation became necessary. He returned to prominence in the B.M.A. in 1928, as president of the Cardiff meeting, and later represented it on missions overseas.

He was a foundation Fellow of the College of. Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and held office as its president from 1935 to 1938. For the Ministry of Health, he acted as a member of the Medical Advisory Committee and, after the establishment of the National Health Service, as a member of the board of governors of the United Cardiff Hospitals. He was knighted in 1923.

Maclean, as a clinician, was conservative yet alive to the significance of new developments in his field; his teaching was unadorned and lucid. In committee work and in public affairs, other qualities emerged—a forceful eloquence, a persuasive charm, and a measured dignity. A bachelor, he died at his home in Cardiff.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1953; B.M.J., 1953; Times, 14 Oct. 1953]

(Volume IV, page 581)

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