William Hutton FORREST (1799-1879)

From RootsUnearthed
Jump to navigationJump to search
Oil painting of Dr William Hutton Forrest, painted in South Carolina, circa 1840

Dr William Hutton FORREST was born on the 19th February 1799 and baptised on 25th March 1799 in Stirling, Scotland[1]. He was the sixth child of Captain James FORREST and Margaret HUTTON.

William completed his medical school and apprenticeship under his father's cousin, Dr John FORREST, of Stirling, and was awarded a Doctorate from Edinburgh on 1st December 1818[2]. He saw no chance of earning a living in Stirling and so a syndicate of friends and relatives, including un-named relatives in Glasgow, put up money to pay for his passage to Cuba, where rumour had it, he could do well. On the way the ship stopped in Charleston, South Carolina for a few days and William liked what he saw. Cuba proved to be dirty and unpleasant, so he went back to Charleston (the syndicate not being too happy about putting up the extra passage money - they were Scots after all) intending to start a practice there. Since there were already several physicians in Charleston he moved inland to Waccamaw, where he was the only doctor and was doing relatively well until he came down with malaria. He moved back to Scotland about 1823, where there was now a vacancy in the medical trade, Dr. John Forrest having died.

William was a man of wide ranging interests. In 1832, with Dr. John Runciman of Stirling, he wrote a "Report on the Treatment of Malignant Cholera in the Hospitals of Musselburgh, Tranent, and Edinburgh", addressed to the Stirling Board of Health. He was a member of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. He took an active interest in the area around Stirling. In 1830 he wrote a description of his analysis of Airthrey Mineral Springs, not far from Stirling. His work was cited in the 1845 New Statistical Account of Scotland (Vol. 8, Dunbarton, Stirling, Clackmannan). He was a keen botanist as well, and reported on his catalogue of local botanical species. Later in life he served as the Coroner or Medical Examiner for Stirling. His interest in fishing is noted in the biographic sketch below. The last pages of his final physician's appointment book include several fishing flies.

William is mentioned in "Old Faces, Old Places and Old Stories of Stirling" by William Drysdale:

"The Doctor always had a strong interest in his native town, and did everything he could for its improvement, and evinced a warm solicitude for the comfort of its inhabitants. In 1825 he assisted in the formation of the School of Arts, and for many years was principal attendant at the Stirling Dispensary. Doctor Forrest may also be said to have been the promoter of the Stirling Fishing Club. It was also greatly through his exertions that the town was provided with a supply of excellent water, in recognition of which services he was presented, in September, 1857, with a silver tea service. The Doctor also took a prominent part in the improvement of the sewerage system of the burgh, which had formerly been very defective, the effects of that improvement producing a general desire for greater cleanliness. Old and dilapidated houses disappeared, and more improved buildings and streets were formed. The Doctor was one of those strong-minded and intrepid individuals, who fearlessly encounter every difficulty, and allow no obstacle to interfere with the carrying out of any enterprise for the general benefit which they have entered upon. He was unflinching in his efforts for the public weal, and went straight onwards in his course, undeterred by the cavillings of narrow-minded prejudice on the one hand, or of bitter jealousy on the other. His aim was uninfluenced by all petty considerations of place or power ; he sought his own good in the welfare and comfort of the whole community."[3]

At the 1857 presentation of the silver tea service mentioned above, John Murrie, Esq., banker of Stirling, delivered an address in which he referred to Dr. Forrest's "...fine patriotic feeling which he has all his life long shown for his native town, in doing everything in his power for its improvement, and evincing the warmest solicitude for the comfort of its inhabitants." Murrie went on to state, "that of all the great improvements which have taken place in the town for a great number of years, the Doctor has borne a conspicuous part. In assisting in the formation of the School of Arts, and his able lectures to its members; in aiding by his professional advice the Dispensary, which proved so useful and beneficial to the poor; in carrying out the Sewage; in the erection of the Academy; in short, he has been engaged in one way or another in almost every good work."


In Stirling, he married on 24th September 1843 Margaret Thompson STEPHENSON[4][5], daughter of Andrew STEPHENSON and Anne MOUBRAY. Together they had issue:

i. Dr James FORREST, born on 19th August 1844 and baptised on 25th September 1844 in Stirling[6].
ii. Andrew Stephenson FORREST, born on 28th May 1846 and baptised on 15th July 1846 in Stirling[6].
iii. Margaret Anne FORREST, born on the 25th June 1849 and baptised on 21st August 1849 in Stirling[7].
iv. Jane FORREST, born on the 10th July 1851 and baptised on 4th September 1851 in Stirling[7].
v. William Hutton FORREST, born on 3rd June 1853 and baptised on 19th August 1853 in Stirling[8].
vi. Anne Moubray FORREST, born on 22nd March 1855 in Stirling[9].

He died from heart disease on 20th March 1879 at his house at at 1 Pitt Terrace, Stirling[10][11][12], and his wife died shortly after on 24th October 1879[13].