William Smellie was an eminent physician who is regarded today as the principal founder of the medical practice of gynaecology. Born at Auchtyfardle near Lesmahagow on 5th February 1697, he was the only child of Archibald Smellie, a merchant and burgess of Lanark and Sara Kennedy, a daughter of the Kennedys of Auchtyfardle.
His family home was in the Bloomgate on the site of what is now the Bank of Scotland. Educated at Lanark Grammar School, he started practice as a surgeon and apothecary in Lanark in 1720.
Smellie's practise flourished and became one of the largest in London. Over a period of 10 years Smellie gave 280 courses involving 900 students in the management of over 1,000 labours.
William Smellie's modest and logical approach to learning is captured in this statement by him in 1741 – "When I first began to practice I determined to follow the method of three gentlemen (other experts in the field) but having by those means lost several children and sometimes the mother, I began to alter my opinion and consult my own reason."
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