Dumfries Museum celebrates life of suffragette who features on £100 banknote

  • Watch as Dr Flora Murray's life is remembered at Dumfries Museum.

The remarkable life of Dr Flora Murray, one of the most influential people in Dumfries history, is being honoured by Dumfries Museum.

The exhibition marks the centenary of the death of the suffragette and medical pioneer, who during the First World War ran hospitals in London and in Paris.

After qualifying as a doctor in 1905, she worked for the French Red Cross in Paris before taking charge of Endell Street Hospital in London where she cared for wounded soldiers.

Under Dr Murray’s management, Endell Street Hospital treated more than 50,000 seriously wounded British, Commonwealth and Imperial soldiers.

Dr Flora Murray features on the £100 note in Scotland. Credit: Bank of Scotland

Her face was first featured on the Scottish £100 banknote in April 2022, although not much is known about her past.

Judith Hewitt, the museum curator at Dumfries Museum said: “She trained for a time at the Crichton Royal in Dumfries.

“She travelled on to London to become a suffragette. During the war, she established the Women's Hospital Corps with her partner in life and work, Louise Anderson.

“Both women were doctors and suffragettes, and they lived and worked together from the time they met until the time of Flora's death in 1923.”

The Women's Hospital for Children in London provided healthcare for children of factory and shop workers in the local area, because women were restricted to treating only women and children.

In honour of their work with the Women’s Hospital Corps, both Dr Anderson and Dr Murray were awarded the rank of Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1917.

At this time, Dr Murray was a lieutenant colonel in the Royal Army Medical Corps, making her the highest-ranked woman in the British armed forces.

She utilised ground-breaking approaches to the treatment of mental illness and even provided a library for her patients to aid psychological as well as physical recovery.

DJ McDowell the co-curator at Dumfries Museum believes the couple’s history isn’t as well-known as it should be. DJ said: “Flora’s history is quite underrepresented as a women's history and as local queer history for Dumfries and Galloway.

“We haven't yet revealed a lot of these histories, and this feels like such a significant time to be able to do that. And on the bottom of Louisa and Flora's shared grave, there is Epitaph that says We have been gloriously happy.

“For them to have gone through what they went through in the war and all the challenges that they had as suffragettes and even before that, they were among the first women doctors in the country.”

Dr Murray was born in Dalton, Dumfriesshire in 1869 where the Murray family resided for more than 500 years.

She was buried near her home in Buckinghamshire after her death at 54 in 1923.

The exhibition in the Dumfries Museum is set to run until January 2024.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...