Dr. Peter MacGregor (1855-1917)
Dr. MacGregor was a well-regarded medical practitioner in the Rashcliffe area of Lockwood for nearly 40 years.
Peter MacGregor was born on 12 April 1855 at Rannoch, Perthshire, the son of farmer Malcolm MacGregor and his wife Margaret.
He was educated by his uncle who was a parish minister at Inverkeithing, Fife. He attended Edinburgh University, becoming a Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians (LRCP) in 1877 and then a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS) in 1892.
After working in Lancashire and Kent, he took over the late Dr. MacDowell's practice at Rashcliffe, Lockwood, in May 1878. During the majority of his 38 years in Huddersfield, he lived at Albert House — for many years the tram stop outside the house was announced by conductors as "MacGregor's!" which usually solicited a wry remark from the doctor if he was aboard.
Known locally as "Dr. Mac", he "was always a popular man" with a "breezy and unconventional nature" who "showed many sterling qualities which were greatly admired". He appointed an honorary surgeon at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary in the late 1890s.
He was one of the founders of the Huddersfield Medical Society. From 1886 to 1892 he represented Lockwood Ward on Huddersfield Town Council. He was a Freemason and member of the Huddersfield Lodge, becoming the Worshipful Master in 1893. He was appointed a Borough Magistrate in August 1896.
During the First World War he served at the Huddersfield War Hospital at Royds Hall and was given the rank of major, but was forced to retire due to ill-health on 30 October 1916 after contracting influenza "which developed into pneumonia and affected his heart". He recuperated at St. Annes, Harrogate, before moving to Rose Cottage at Oswaldkirk, North Yorkshire.
He died on 15 November 1917 at Oswaldkirk and was buried at Lockwood Cemetery on 20 November. The Huddersfield Examiner reported that hundreds were waiting at St. George's Square, where the funeral cortege was formed, and hundreds more lined the road through Lockwood.
Following his death, the Examiner reprinted some of his reminiscences:
When I came to Huddersfield, I was struck with the handsome and substantial appearance of the buildings, affording, as they did, a pleasing contrast to many I had seen in other towns in England, particularly Lancashire. It is a matter of grave concern to me that this distinctive feature is gradually disappearing in consequence of the operations of speculative builders. Many of the houses which have been built in recent years will, I am convinced, become the slums of the town before many years are over.
In 1878, some of the streets in Lockwood were the most drunken and unruly in Huddersfield or anywhere else. On Saturdays the policemen marched about in couples, and every Saturday night, and well into Sunday morning, there was a constant succession of brawls and free fights. Today, I can honestly say that no part of Huddersfield is more peaceable; the policeman find it unnecessary to march in couples, and I have not seen a drunken man nor a free fight in the street for the last ten years.
Speaking from more than thirty years' intimate knowledge of all classes, I am quite sure that the world is improving, notwithstanding all that the Socialists say. The material and social condition of the working classes has enormously improved. They take their amusements in a saner and more sober fashion than they did; they save their money, they have higher ideas of social comfort for themselves and their families, and in the main, they have the ambition that their children shall, if possible, begin where they leave off. When I came to Lockwood, quite half the adult population could neither read nor write. Now I never come across one who can't do both.
One of the big nuisances in life 34 years ago was the frequency with which young children were seized with fits, due entirely to gross ignorance on the part of the mothers, and improper feeding. Whatever may be the merits or demerits of the efforts to stamp out infantile mortality, the fact remains that to-day we do not see one case if infantile convulsions where we used to see fifty.
The same column also noted that Dr. MacGregor "was very severe in his condemnation of the inordinate consumption by the local children of 'chipped' potatoes" and would knock the chips out of the child's hands before offering them a penny as compensation. The article wryly noted that the children would then simply wait until the doctor was out of view before using the penny to buy more chips.
As one final anecdote, the article ended on a story about an instance of Dr. MacGregor presiding as a magistrate at the Police Court. A man who had been charged with being drunk, and assumed that he would be sent to jail, had written out a list of his possessions so that the police could look after them. As "proof of his soberness" the man handed the list to MacGregor who, "after perusing it for some moments", handed back and remarked: "It is written more clearly than I can write, either drunk or sober."
- "Death of the Well-Known Surgeon Last Night" in Huddersfield Daily Examiner (16/Nov/1917)
Notes and References
- Born 7 November 1862, the daughter of John Scholes of Clough House Mills, Birkby. Died 28 July 1938 at Maunby, Thirsk.
- Possibly died 1974.
- Did not marry. Died 18 November 1922 at Rose Cottage, Oswaldkirk, North Yorkshire.
- Born 2 September 1888. Died 24 August 1948.
- "Funeral of Dr. MacGregor" in Huddersfield Daily Examiner (20/Nov/1917).
- "Old Lockwood: Reminiscences of the Late Dr. MacGregor" in Huddersfield Daily Examiner (19/Nov/1917).