The bust depicting Sir Andrew Douglas MacLagan can be found outside the Sibbald Library. There are detailed records detailing how the College came into possession of this bust in 1914. In a letter to the RCPE Dr Robert Craig MacLagan wrote that:

I learned a few days ago that the college possesses a terra-cotta copy of the bust of my father the late Sir Douglas MacLagan, by Hutchison and now in the University. I was further told that to make it in some sort uniform with those in marble it had to be white washed.  I went to see it, and after inspection I have determined to offer the College a copy in marble.

According to another letter from Robert the aforementioned copy of the university’s Hutchison bust was ready by 31 March 1914. The College's records do not indicate who was responsible for this copy of Hutchison's 1887 original.

Nonetheless, once this bust was completed, Robert was concerned that the old terracotta bust of his father would not be left anywhere near the new marble bust and he told the College that he would ‘see at once to the delivering of the latter’ once they had decided where the older bust was to be placed. Consequently, the College decided to send the terracotta bust to Robert as ‘The College would wish you to deal with the plaster cast entirely as you may wish’. The new marble bust, which depicts MacLagan wearing his university robe, was in position by 7 April 1914 according to the council minutes of that date.

Alongside this piece the college also possesses a bust of the College also possesses a bust of MacLagan by John Steell.

Sir Douglas MacLagan, photograph by G. Jerrard, 1881.

Sir Andrew Douglas MacLagan (1812 - 1900)

MacLagan obtained his M.D. in 1833 and he was licentiate (1831) and later fellow (1833) of the Royal College of Surgeons. After a period studying on the continent he returned to Edinburgh where he was appointed assistant surgeon to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

Like his father, David MacLagan, (whose bust is also in the college's collection), Douglas MacLagan held, at different times, both the presidency of the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Surgeons; he was also president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1890 – 1895). Both the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow bestowed the degree of LLD on him and he was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1886.

MacLagan was particularly interested in therapeutics, analytical chemistry and toxicology and eventually abandoned surgery to become an extra-mural lecturer in material medica. He was later appointed professor of medical jurisprudence and public health in 1862, holding this position for 34 years. His teaching on public hygiene and public health administration were particularly important in light of the 1875 Public Health Act. He was also instrumental in the establishment of the department for skin diseases in the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

 MacLagan also made a number of appearances as an expert witness in court, including as a member of the defence in the notorious case of Madeleine Smith of Glasgow who was charged with poisoning her lover. Indeed McLagan became a leading authority on the analysis of poisons and published important works on the subject including Contributions to Toxicology, Cases of Poisoning (1849).

Outside of his medical interests MacLagan also cultivated an interest in poetry, and published Lays by the Poet Laureate of the New Town Dispensary. He was also involved in early Scottish photography with his work being displayed by the Edinburgh Society of Arts as early as 1843.