Sara Maude Robertson Christmas Island Scotland Singapore

Biography of Sara Maude Robertson

Restored grave of Sara Maude Robertson
Restored grave of Sara Maude Robertson

Sara Maude Robertson, born on 21st May 1876, graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1899 as one of only nineteen female graduates. A pioneer in more ways than one, she died on Christmas Island in 1907, having worked as a doctor there treating Beriberi disease.

Daughter to John, who worked for the Inland Revenue, Sara called Banffshire her home. On her path to graduating in medicine she took various subjects including: Anatomy, Pathology, Surgery and Midwifery. She received certificates in Ophthalmology, Embryology, Materia Medica & Therapeutics and Practical Pharmacy. In Physics, which she took in her first year, she received a first class certificate.

Following her graduation the General Council Register states that Sara continued to live in Glasgow. Although in 1903 her address in the register is changed to Atherton, Manchester, other sources show that in 1901 she went to Christmas Island to manage a Beriberi epidemic. In fact, legend has it that she was appalled by the condition of the hospital there and so, in order to force improvement, she burned it down! Other sources, such as this article from the Christmas Island Archives website, make the case that, although this legend is likely erroneous, Sara was nevertheless a remarkable woman who broke conventions and made a lasting impact.

It is not clear how she met William MacDougall but on 16th February 1907 they were married in the Presbyterian Church in Singapore. She then went back to Christmas Island and sadly died on 7th June, only four months after marrying William. To this day a restored gravestone in the Old European Cemetery on the island commemorates her.


Printed Materials

Archival Materials

  • Dates of birth of graduates R3/1/1
  • General Council Register DC183/11/31
  • Graduate Schedule MED5/2/6
  • Matriculation Slip R8/5/15/10
  • Matriculation Slip R8/5/16/10
  • Matriculation Slip R8/5/17/10
  • Matriculation Slip R8/5/18/10
  • Matriculation Slip R8/5/19/10
  • University of Glasgow Calendar SEN10/37
  • University of Glasgow Calendar SEN10/40
  • University of Glasgow Calendar SEN10/41


Sara Maude Robertson
Born 21 May 1876.
Died 7 June 1907.
GU Degree: MB, 1899; 1894-99;
University Link: Graduate
Occupation categories: doctor
Additional Information: R3/1/1 (vol 2)
Record last updated: 15th Mar 2019

Country Associations

Christmas Island Christmas Island, No Region

Scotland Scotland, Banff

Singapore Singapore, No Region

University Connections

University Roles