Dame Anne Louise McIlroy, DBE, lived from 11 November 1874 to 8 February 1968. She was a pioneering woman doctor. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
Louise McIlroy was born in Ballycastle in Northern Ireland, the daughter of a doctor. In 1894 she followed in her father's footsteps and attended the University of Glasgow to study medicine, becoming one of the first female medical students at the university. She graduated as a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery in 1898 and was the first woman to graduate from the University of Glasgow as a Doctor of Medicine, which she did in 1900. She also became the first woman resident at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary in 1899 before going on to work in Glasgow's Samaritan Hospital and as a gynaecologist at the Victoria Infirmary, a post she held from 1906 to 1910.
At the outbreak of the First World War, Louise McIlroy was among a number of female Scottish doctors whose services were rejected by the War Office, and who responded by establishing the Scottish Women's Hospitals for Foreign Service. She was given command of a hospital at Troyes in France before serving in Serbia and then in Salonika. During her time in Salonika she established a nurses' training school for Serbian women. At the end of the war she was working as a surgeon at a Royal Army Medical Corps hospital in Constantinople. For her wartime service she was awarded a number of medals including the French Croix de Guerre.
In 1921 Louise McIlroy was appointed Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the London School of Medicine for Women, becoming the first woman to be appointed a medical professor in United Kingdom. As well as many articles in medical journals, Louise published a textbook on pregnancy. She was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1929 and became a member of the General Council of the British Medical Association. Dame Louise McIlroy continued to work until she was 70, and then retired to Turnberry in Ayrshire, where she died in 1968.
This biography draws on research first published in "The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women".