Dr Claude Buchanan Ker

King Edward VII Police (Scotland) Medal, 1903


The list of six Doctors awarded the ‘Visit to Scotland medal by the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, the Right Honourable Sir Robert Cranston in a ceremony at Royal Exchange Square, Edinburgh on 1 March, 1904 and published in the Police Review and Parade Gossip of 4 March, 1904 includes the following:[i]


Dr Sir Henry Duncan Littlejohn

Dr Henry Harvey Littlejohn

Dr Claude Buchanan Ker

Dr Edmund Frederick Tanney Price

Dr Alexander William Gordon Price

Dr Charles Kennedy



Dr Claude Buchanan Ker


Claude Buchanan Ker was listed in the 1903 Medical Register for the United Kingdom living at The City Hospital, Edinburgh where he was the Resident Physician. It records that he graduated from Edinburgh University in 1896 as a Bachelor of Medicine (M.B.), Master of Surgery (Mast. Surg). He subsequently qualified as a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), also at the University of Edinburgh. He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh (F.R.C.P.E.) in 1901.[ii]


He was born in Cheltenham in the County of Gloucester in 1867. He was baptised in the Parish of Cheltenham St Mary on 1 May, 1867. His father was Claudius Buchanan Ker, a Doctor of Medicine and his mother, Isabella Elizabeth Ker. The family lived at Hadley House, Cheltenham.[iii]


After graduation, he held a number of appointments in the Royal Infirmary, Craighouse Lunatic Asylum as Asylum Physician,[iv] both in Edinburgh and later became the Assistant Medical Officer at the old City Fever Hospital in Infirmary Street, also in Edinburgh.[v]


In 1896, Dr Ker succeeded Dr Wood as Medical Superintendent of that hospital and from that time until his death, built up his reputation as an authority on infectious diseases. [vi]


From at least, 1898, Dr Ker was a member of the 1st Lothian Brigade, Bearer Company, Territorial Army as a Surgeon-Captain as he appears in the Army List for 1902.[vii]


A report in The Scotsman newspaper of Thursday 14 May, 1903 concerning the Royal Visit to Scotland of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra states the following:


“… Their Majesties, after leaving St Giles Cathedral, drove to the City Hospital, Colinton, where they were received by the Lord Provost, Councillor Lang Todd, Sir H. D. Littlejohn (the Medical Officer of Health), Mr R. Morham, (City Architect and architect of the buildings), Dr C. Buchanan Ker (the Resident Physician), Dr James Affleck (Consulting Physician to the hospital) and Miss E. C. Sandford (the Lady Superintendent of the hospital).


Councillor Lang Todd made a statement to which His Majesty graciously replied.


The King and Queen then entered the building when the following had the honour of being presented to their Majesties: - Professor Sir Henry D. Littlejohn (Medical Officer of Health), Mr Robert Morham (City Architect, architect of the hospital), Doctor Claude B. Kerr (Resident Physician …” [viii]


On 5 August, 1905, the Cheltenham Looker On carried an announcement on page 8 stating:-


“August 1st at Edinburgh by Rev. S Gairdman of Peebles, CLAUDE Buchanan KER M.D., of the City Hospital, youngest son of the late C. B. Ker M.D., of Hadleigh House, Cheltenham to KATHERINE MALCOLM eldest daughter of ALEXANDER THOM M.D., 18 Strathearn Road, Edinburgh.” [ix]


Dr Ker shows up in various civic records between 1905 and 1925 including Valuation Rolls and public directories.


On 4 March, 1925, Dr Claude Buchanan Ker M.D. of the City Hospital, Comiston Road in Colinton, died in Edinburgh. His estate was confirmed on 21 May, 1925 in favour of his widow, Katherine Malcolm Thom or Ker and two others. [x]


The final piece of information I have found on Dr Ker comes from The Scotsman newspaper of Thursday 30 September, 1926 and a long article describes the dedication of a memorial tablet at the City hospital as follows: -


“Edinburgh Physician – memorial to Dr Claude B. Ker: - Lady Sleigh (wife of the city’s Lord Provost) yesterday unveiled a tablet to the memory of the late Dr Claude B. Ker, placed in the entrance hall of the Edinburgh City Hospital, Colinton…


The tablet, which is of marble and bronze, bears in relief a portrait of the deceased and the following inscription:- “In memory of Dr Claude Buchanan Ker M.D., F.R.C.P.E., Medical Superintendent of the Edinburgh City Hospital, 1897 – 1925. His eminence as a physician and his devotion to duty earned alike the gratitude of suffering humanity and the confidence and esteem of his colleagues and fellow citizens.”[xi]



As well as the memorial tablet, the subscriptions were sufficient to establish a prize medal for annual competition among the hospitals nurses.


[i] The Police Review and Parade Gossip, Friday, 4 March, 1904, Page 118.

[iv] Ancestry, Census of Scotland, 1891, Edinburgh, St George Landward.

[v] http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000540/19250310/219/0006

[vi] http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000540/19260930/266/0007

[vii] https://www.fold3.com

[viii] The Scotsman, Thursday 14 May, 1903, Page 6,

[ix] The Cheltenham Looker-On, 5 August, 1905, Page 858

[x] Ancestry.com. Scotland, National Probate Index (Calendar of Confirmations and Inventories), 1876-1936[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry Operations, Inc., 2015.

[xi] The Scotsman, Thursday, 30 September, 1926, Page 7.

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