National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Sophia Jex-Blake (1840-1912)

Sophia Jex-Blake (1840-1912)

Physician and campaigner for women’s rights 

Sophia Jex-Blake was born in Hastings on 21 January 1840. She travelled to the USA in 1867 to report on co-educational schools and colleges. In 1869 she became one of the first women medical students. At the end of the course she applied successfully to the Court of Session to overturn the University of Edinburgh’s decision not to grant a degree but lost on appeal. After studying for her medical degree at Bern in Switzerland and at Dublin she was able to register and set up her own medical practice in Edinburgh. She later established the Edinburgh Hospital for Women and Edinburgh School of Medicine for Women. Sophia Jex-Blake retired in 1899 and moved to Sussex where she died on 7 January 1912.

1881 and 1891 Censuses

In 1881 Sophia Jex Blake, 41, physician, MD Bern, was enumerated at 4 Manor Place. The census return for the parish of St Giles in Edinburgh includes Ursula, with whom she is ‘joint heads of family’ - and  her mother, Maria, 80, a widow whose income was ‘from dividends’. Their birth-places are given as England. The household also includes her assistant, Beatrice Gilchrist, physician MA USA.

1881 Census record for Sophia Jex-Blake

1881 Census record for Sophia Jex-Blake (38 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1881/685-1/90, page 5

In 1891 Sophia Jex Blake, 51, physician, was enumerated at Rumbly Bridge in Muckart run by Elizabeth McOra, hotel-keeper, and her family. The census return shows that Sophia Jex-Blake was one of six visitors and that her birth-place was Hastings, England. The other hotel guests include Margaret Todd, medical student.

1891 Census record for Sophia Jex-Blake

1891 Census record for Sophia Jex-Blake (49 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1891/385/3 page 3