Lucy Macbean Ross, Medical Officer and Anaesthetist

Lucy Macbean Ross (1887-1932) was born in London where her father was manager of the London branch of the Commercial Bank of Scotland. When he died the family moved to Tain in Scotland where their mother came from. After school, Lucy studied medicine at Glasgow University and she graduated in 1912. Her older sister Elizabeth had done the same in 1901 and as such was one of the first women to qualify in medicine at a Scottish University. Lucy also had a younger brother, James, who graduated in medicine in 1911. 

By 1915 Lucy was a Diplomate in Public Health and the University of Glasgow lists M.B. ChB, D.Phil. and D.P.H. (Doctor of Public Health) as Lucy’s qualifications. 

York was to benefit from Lucy Macbean Ross’s medical expertise as she was the Medical Officer at the Grey Coat School, 30, Monkgate. The Grey Coat School was set up in 1705 for 40 girls, all either orphaned or from poor, often large, families. There was a Blue Coat School for boys as well. Both were charity schools and were so named because the children were given clothing each year, which included blue, or grey, coats. The school was funded principally by public subscription for girls who were provided with food, clothes and lodging and received an education that focused on religion and preparation for domestic service. In the 1940s, a former pupil who wrote of her time there said the school she went to was, in many ways, a school out of time. It was very institutionalised, with a lengthy daily routine full of housework in readiness for the servant role. 

In addition to her work at the School, Lucy was a House Surgeon in 1921 and one of three Hon. Assistant Administrators of Anaesthetics at the York County Hospital, listed in Watson’s York City Year Book in 1925 and 1926. In 1932 she was listed as one of three Anaesthetists at the hospital. 

In 1932 Lucy died aged just 46. In 1935, the sanatorium at Grey Coat School was completely renovated with funds left in her memory. 

Photo: The three Doctors from left : Lucy, Elizabeth and James 


Taylor, W.B. 1997. The Blue and Grey Coat Schools and St. Stephen’s Home of York. 1705 – 1983. York, England. Sessions Book Trust. 

University of Glasgow website. The University of Glasgow Story. University of Glasgow website. The University of Glasgow Story. accessed 4 July 2021 

2017; “More photos of York’s Grey Coat School in the 1940s”; York Press; 6 March 2017; accessed 5 July 2021. 

Report of Blue Coat Boys and Grey Coat Girls Schools. 1931. York Explore Archive EPH/2/1425 

Watson’s York City Year Book, 1926. Accessed through website Find my past 

Kelly’s Directory, York and North and East Ridings. 1925. Accessed through website Find my past 

1932. The Scotsman. Notices of wills. 14 December 1932. Accessed through website Find my past 

Written by Rosie Cantrell