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Biography of Lawrie Hugh McGavin (surgeon)

This article has no direct connection with Malvern


While researching for our page about the Michie Hospital, we came across the name of Lawrie Hugh McGavin, who had worked as a surgeon at the Michie Hospital, and others during WWI (ref 1).

Lawrie lived in an interesting period of great opportunity when the British were in India and South Africa and were in the process of colonizing Australia.

Lawrie's father had been a merchant in Calcutta, his wife was born in the new colony of Australia, and his sister Florence married the son of a general.

Here in brief is their story for those interested in the history of those days.

Early life

Lawrie was born 1869 in Ayr, on the west coast of Scotland, in fact not far from where my great grandmother was born. Lawrie was the son of John McGavin, merchant of Calcutta, and Margaret Brown, who was born in London. Lawrie never knew his father as John died when he was a baby.

Lawrie's father John McGavin (junior), of Shalimar House, Ayr, died on 7th April 1870, aged 42, and was buried in Dreghorn parish churchyard where Lawrie's grandfather John was a school-master (ref 5). Lawrie was named after his grandmother Ann Lawrie.

The 1871 Scotttish census records Lawrie aged 2 and his sisters Florence Anne and Edith Jean living at Shalimar House with their widowed mother Margaret.

The 1873 Scottish Post Office Directory lists a Mrs John McGavin at Shalimar House, Racecourse, Ayr (earlier known as Chapel Park Road) and we found a photo of a large grey Victorian house which might have been the McGavin's home. Click here for images of Shalimar (and then click thumbnail to enlarge.)

In 1881 aged 12 Lawrie was a boarder at Cargilfield prep school in Midlothian and later attended Fettes College (ref 1).

He attended Sandhurst and in 1891, aged 22, was a Lieutenant with 6th Dragoon Guards at Leeds Cavalry Barracks.

In 1892, in London, Lawrie married Edith Mary Beauchamp, born 1867 St Kilda, Melbourne, Australia, the daughter of retired British auctioneer Horatio Beauchamp and Ann Mary Lassetter of New South Wales.

About 1893 Lawrie left the army and trained at Guys Hospital. By the time of the 1901 Census he was a surgeon living in Marylebone, London, with his wife Edith, two daughters and a son.

In 1911 he was a Consulting Surgeon living at Siege Cross, Thatcham in Berkshire.

During the First World War he worked at the Michie Hospital and the Farnborough Court Auxiliary Hospital, Farnborough. He was also a member of the Emergency Surgical Aid Corps.

He retired from active consulting in 1919 due to ill health.


Lawrie Hugh McGavin died Folkestone October 31st 1932 aged 64 years.

Edith Mary Beauchamp (wife)

Edith was born in the St Kilda district of Melbourne, Australia, about 1867, the daughter of Horation Beauchamp (born London), an auctioneer, and Anne Mary Lassetter who was born in the colony of New South Wales.

By 1881 Horatio had retired and the family was living in London.

In 1891 Edith and her parents were living at Mount Villa, Cookham Dean, in Berkshire. She married Lawrie Hugh McGavin in 1892 and died in 1947.

Florence Anne McGavin (sister)

Lawrie's sisters have not been found in the 1881 or 1891 census.

Florence reappears in the records in 1899 when she married in London, Major Andrew Mitchell Stuart, Royal Engineers, son of General John Ramsay Stuart CBE (1811 - 1889) and Lillias Oswald Mitchell.

Andrew Mitchell Stuart had a distinguished military career, like his father, and went on to become Major General Sir Andrew Mitchell Stuart KCMG (ref 1). The National Portrat Gallery has a photograph of him dated 1918.

Andrew and Florence had one daughter Sylvia Edith Stuart born London 1904. Andrew died in 1936 and Florence in 1946.

They are buried in Fleet cemetery, Hampshire

Edith Jean McGavin (sister)

After 1871, Edith did not appear again in the UK records until 1911 when she was living on 'private means' in London with her widowed mother  Margaret. Margaret died in 1921 and Edith in 1940. It appears Edith never married.

John Hugh Stuart Mansfield (grandson)

Lawrie and Edith's daughter Katherine Margaret, known as Peggy, married John Alfred Mansfield who had been a Captain in the Royal Flying Corps in WWI. Sadly their son John Hugh Stuart Mansfield was killed while serving with the RAF during the Suez crisis.

Model of a MeteorFlying Officer John Hugh Stuart Mansfield, 208 Squadron, RAF Khormaksar, was killed whilst ejecting, at low level, from his Meteor on 24th March 1957 near Thumier West Aden Protectorate. His engine caught fire at 500 feet, perhaps from a ricochet of his own shell whilst firing at the ground or it may have been that the engine was struck by small arms fire. He was aged only 24 years.

Coincidentally, the Malvern Town Council website records that another RAF pilot was killed while flying a Meteor the same year.

Flt Lt Michael Withey was killed when his Gloster Meteor jet crashed, following engine failure, at Kirkcaldy, Fife, on 18th October, 1957. He was brought back to Malvern to be buried in Great Malvern Cemetery. Flt Lt Withey, who had celebrated his 26th birthday just two days before the crash, was the only son of Mr and Mrs Frank Withey, of Pickersleigh Road.

Click to go to memorial of Michael Withey on the Find a Grave website


1. Who's Who

2. Obituary of Lawrie Hugh McGavin, British Medical Journal November 12th 1932

3. Entry in Wikipedia

4. Census 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, and 1911

5. Burial record of John McGavin, Shalimar 1870, findagrave.com

6. Communication from R Mansfield.

7. Malvern Gazette.

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