Charles Cathcart, an Edinburgh surgeon best remembered as a teacher, achieved fame on the rugby field by gaining three caps for Scotland – one of half a dozen College Fellows to be capped for their country.
Charles Walker Cathcart, son of James Cathcart a Wine Merchant of Leith, was educated at Loretto School and graduated in medicine from Edinburgh in 1878. Later that year he was House Surgeon in the old Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh to Professor Annandale who had succeeded Lister as Regius Professor of Surgery the previous year. The Anatomy Department at Surgeons Hall, which had been established by John Bell (qv), elder brother of Charles Bell, was still flourishing. Cathcart took charge of the Anatomy Department there before moving on to become a surgeon in The Royal Infirmary. With the outbreak of the Great War he served as a surgeon on the Scottish General Hospital staff at Craigleith Hospital subsequently the Western General Hospital. When the military hospital at Bangour opened he became Chief Surgeon there and after demobilisation became surgeon to the Edenhall Hospital for limbless soldiers and sailors. Cathcart proved to be a surgical innovator designing and building a microtome for frozen sections, a steriliser for surgical dressings and an adaption of the Springel pump for bladder drainage and more besides. Two publications enhanced his considerable local reputation as a teacher. He published the surgical handbook jointly with Professor Caird which became a vade mecum for generations of students. “Caird and Cathcart” went on to be published in fourteen editions. “Requisites and Methods in Surgery” was published in 1928 bringing the earlier surgical handbook up-to-date.
His contributions to surgery were recognised by The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh by the award of the Liston Victoria Jubilee prize. He was conservator of the College Museum between 1887 and 1900.
Edinburgh Medical Journal; 1932; v39; p273-5
British Medical Journal; 1932; v1; p452
Lancet; 1932; v1; p540
Plarr's Lives 1930-51; p138-139
University of Edinburgh Journal; 1932-3; v5; p68-9