Dr Mckelvie


By the death, on November 5th, 1901 of Dr. McKelvie, a notable figure in the West Highlands of Scotland disappears.
He was born in the Island of Arran in 1836, graduated M.D.Glas. in 1858, and, after a short time as an assistant in Ayrshire, was appointed Parochial Medical Officer of Appin and Lismore, and shortly afterwards also of Ardchattan and Muckairn.

Although coming young to this arduous charge, he soon established a reputation for care and skill amongst rich and poor.
His district was about 18 miles long by 6 or 7 broad, broken up by arms of the sea, so that he had three long ferries to be faced winter or summer.

In 1875, after the death of Dr. McGillvray, he moved to Oban, where his position was soon pre-eminent and unique.
In addition to the charge of the Lorn Combination Poorhouse, he had the medical care of four parishes, was M.O.H., and was Surgeon to the Police, the Post Office, and Lismore Lighthouse.

Four years ago, (1897) after an outbreak of infectious disease which taxed the resources of the local authorities, and involved the relegation of a rich Australian visitor to the Poorhouse Infirmary, Dr. McKelvie presented a small Infectious Hospital to the town, which has become his memorial as the McKelvie Hospital.

As an instance of his modest and retiring nature, it is recorded that on the opening day of his hospital, when his fellow townsmen had arranged to present him with a golden key, he was nowhere to be found, and, in fact, was-at the utmost end of his district at his daily work.

His life was a very busy one - one day called to Mull, another to Loch Awe, one day to Appin, another to Easdale.
Much of his time was passed in trains and boats, and many of his friends consider that he never thoroughly got over the shock of the wreck of the SS Mountaineer twelve years ago while on a journey to Mull.

Any record of his life would be incomplete which did not indicate the peculiar love and admiration whioh he excited in his friends and patients Always bright and humorous, sometimes in boisterous high spirits, ever sympathetic, he was a devoted friend, a cheerful companion and an enthusiastic doctor.
He was an intensely practical man, and, though he seldom wrote to the medical papers, kept himself well up in the literature of. the profession.

He was a lover of art, having many artists among his friends, and was an ardent student of Shakespeare and Burns, whose works provided him with many an apt quotation.
He was unmarried, and spent much of his spare time, little enough, in reading.

By the poor he will be much missed.
They knew him well, his roughness and his tenderness, and that while the voice said " No" to a night call up the glens or across the ferries,
the twinkle in the eye meant "'Yes," and that immediately.
Not only the poor, but the rich also, will sadly miss him, as there were few mansions in Argyllshire where he was not an honoured guest and a valued friend.

His life was a hard, but a happy one.
He seldom took a holiday, and he died, as he wished, in harness.
At work on Monday, he was stricken with apoplexy on Tuesday moming. and died that evening.
On Saturday he was laid to rest by his sorrowing friends in the Oban Churchyard.

The loving personality of R. B. McKelvie will not soon be forgotten in Argyllshire, and never by anyone who had the honour and the privilege of his friendship.
W. M. Qt

Br Med J 1901;2:1508 (16 November), doi:10.1136/bmj.2.2133.1508

A memorial fountain and inscription was installed in the middle of Argyll Square, Oban

from receipt for sale on ebay
Received from Mr Anderson Fifiteen Pounds 15/- as payment for professional attendance on the late Mr Archd McPhail
23 January 1877
R B McKelvie and his stamp

It looks like several receipts to Dr McKelvie of works done for him by tradesmen and craftsmen in the town, are in the collection being sold on Ebay.
possibly from old Hosack and Sutherland records.

From an image of a receipt from The Parish Council of Kilmore and Kilbride, dated 31st December 1895, For Poor and School Rates, Oban - it looks like it could be to Dr McKelvie MD and if so his address was 21 Argyll Square.
The sum is for One pound, Four shillings and Five pence.
and the signatory is Donald MacDonald

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