Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Sir David Hardie (1856–1945)

by J. C. H. Gill

This article was published:

Sir David Hardie (1856-1945), medical practitioner, was born on 4 June 1856 at Elgin, Morayshire, Scotland, son of John Hardie, farmer, and his wife Margaret, née Mason. Educated at the University of Aberdeen (M.B., Ch.B., 1878), he worked there for two years as a demonstrator in anatomy, then started general practice in 1880 at Forres, Morayshire. In 1883 he married Marianne Jeans at Nairn.

Gaining an Aberdeen M.D. in 1887, Hardie took his family to Melbourne on the advice of Australian friends. He decided to settle in Brisbane and was registered in Queensland on 5 May 1887. Living initially at Stanley Villa on the south bank of the Brisbane River, he settled finally, after several moves, in Wickham Terrace. There he specialized in the diseases of women and children, particularly those arising from climate. In 1893 he became president of the Medical Society of Queensland which later became the Queensland branch of the British Medical Association. On a visit to Europe in 1895 he investigated Röntgen's work on X-rays but although he brought radiology equipment to Australia he did not pursue the work. In 1902 he built Firhall in Wickham Terrace where he resided and practised. A sound and capable family physician, popular with patients in all levels of society, Hardie won many distinctions. He was Queensland president of the British Medical Association in 1910 and 1920. A foundation member of the University Senate in 1911-16, he chaired the Emmanuel College Council in 1911-40. On the recommendation of the Denham ministry, he was appointed K.B. in the New Year honours list for 1913 and thus became Queensland's first medical knight.

Hardie joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and served with it in France in 1915-16. On his return to Brisbane he became the first chairman of the Presbyterian and Methodist Schools Association. After retiring from active practice in 1922, he was commissioned by the Queensland government to investigate the treatment of tuberculosis in England and Switzerland in 1922-23. A staunch Presbyterian, he was active from 1928 in the formation of Rev. John Flynn's Aerial Medical Service of the Australian Inland Mission and fostered the development of Traeger's pedal wireless. An honorary physician for years to the Hospital for Sick Children, the Lady Bowen Hospital and the Lady Lamington Hospital, he served also on the Central Board of Health in 1894-1915 and the Medical Board of Queensland in 1894-1934. He published numerous journal articles and one book in 1893, Notes on Some of the More Common Diseases in Queensland in Relation to Atmospheric Conditions. In 1919 the University of Aberdeen awarded him an honorary LL.D. and in 1927 he became a founding fellow of the (Royal) Australasian College of Surgeons.

Hardie died in Brisbane on 11 November 1945, full of years and honours, and was cremated. His patients had ranged from the vice-regal to the humblest citizen. His capacity for work had been great, but he had remained warmly human. His wife, two daughters and a son survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • W. Watson & Sons Ltd, Salute to the X-Ray Pioneers of Australia (Syd, 1946)
  • Medical Journal of Australia, 12 Oct 1946, p 507
  • Brisbane Courier, 2 Jan 1913
  • Courier Mail (Brisbane), 13 Nov 1945
  • P. D. Robin, The British Medical Association in Queensland (B.A. Hons thesis, University of Queensland 1966)
  • J. Hardie, Early Reminiscences of Brisbane's First Medical Knight (MS F1431, University of Queensland Library)
  • Governors secret despatches (GOV/68, Queensland State Archives).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

J. C. H. Gill, 'Hardie, Sir David (1856–1945)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 18 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (Melbourne University Press), 1983

View the front pages for Volume 9

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


4 June, 1856
Elgin, Moray, Scotland


11 November, 1945 (aged 89)
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

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