Rae, James (DNB00)

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RAE, JAMES (1716–1791), surgeon, only son of John Rae (1677–1754), a barber-surgeon and descendant of an old family of landed proprietors in Stirlingshire, was born in Edinburgh in 1716. He became, 27 Aug. 1747, a member of the Incorporation of Surgeons—erected in 1778 into the Royal College of Surgeons—of Edinburgh, where in 1764–5 he filled the office of deacon or president. Rae was the first surgeon appointed to the Royal Infirmary on 7 July 1766, and he at once took advantage of his position to give practical discourses on cases of importance which there came under his notice. These lectures were so highly appreciated by his brother practitioners that in October 1776 they made a determined attempt to found a professorship of surgery in the university and to appoint Rae the first professor. This project was defeated by Alexander Monro [q. v.], secundus, who afterwards managed to convert his own chair of anatomy into one of anatomy and surgery.

Rae did in the Scottish metropolis what Percivall Pott [q. v.] did in London: he established the teaching of clinical surgery on a firm and broad platform. He died in 1791, and was buried, as was also his wife, in the tomb of his forefathers in Greyfriars Church.

In Kay's ‘Edinburgh Portraits’ Rae is represented in conversation with Dr. William Laing and Dr. James Hay, afterwards Sir James Hay of Smithfield.

Rae married, in 1744, Isobel, daughter of Ludovic Cant of Thurstan. By her he had two sons and several daughters. The elder son William joined the Incorporation of Surgeons on 18 July 1777, settled in London, where he married Isabella, sister of the Lord chief-justice Dallas, and died young. John, the younger brother, was the first fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, where he was admitted on 14 March 1781. He became president in 1804–5, and was well known in Edinburgh as a dentist. Among Rae's daughters was Mrs. Elizabeth Keith, who founded the Incurables Association, and Elizabeth, wife of James Fleming of Kirkcaldy, whose daughter, Margaret Fleming [q. v.], was immortalised by Dr. John Brown in ‘Pet Marjorie.’

[List of Fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, 1874; Kay's Portraits, i. 424; Brown's Horæ Subsecivæ, 3rd ser. p. 199; Scotsman, 4 April 1888, under the heading ‘An Old Grave;’ information kindly given to the writer by Dr. G. A. Gibson, a great-grandson of John Rae; see also Sir Grainger Stewart's Account of the History of the Royal Infirmary in the Edinburgh Hospital Reports, 1893, vol. i.]

D’A. P.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.230
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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151 i 27 Rae, James: for Margarie' read Marjorie'