National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Sir Alexander Fleming (1881-1955)

Sir Alexander Fleming (1881-1955)

Bacteriologist, discoverer of penicillin and Nobel laureate

Alexander Fleming studied medicine at St Mary’s Medical School in London and worked at that hospital’s Inoculation Department (later the Wright Fleming Institute) until he retired.  During the First World War he served as a captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps. He discovered penicillin in 1928 although its anti-bacterial properties were not fully exploited until the Second World War. It is one of the most important developments in modern medicine and he shared the Nobel Prize in 1945. He died suddenly in 1955 and his ashes are interred in St Paul’s Cathedral. He is commemorated in the Alexander Fleming Laboratory Museum and a collection of his papers are held by the British Library. 

Birth in 1881

Alexander Fleming was born on 6 August 1881, the son of Hugh Fleming, farmer and Grace Morton. The entry in the statutory register of births for the parish of Loudoun in Ayrshire gives the place of birth as Lochfield Farm.

Birth entry for Alexander Fleming

Birth entry for Alexander Fleming (28 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1881/603/104

1891 Census

In 1891 Alexander Fleming, aged 9, a scholar was living with his mother, now widowed and the head of household, his sister and brothers at Lochfield. The census record for the parish of Loudoun shows that there were also three servants.

1891 Census record for Alexander Fleming

1891 Census record for Alexander Fleming (32 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1891/603/3, page 3

By 1901 the census schedule for their home, Lochfield Farm, shows that Alexander and some of his brothers had left home.