Major-General (Sir) Dr Donald McGavin

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Donald Johnstone McGavin

Birthdate: (83)
Birthplace: Rochester, Kent, UK
Death: May 8, 1960 (83)
Wellington, New Zealand
Immediate Family:

Son of John McGavin and Jessie McGavin
Husband of Lady Mary McGavin (Chapple)
Father of Donald Burns McGavin
Brother of Barbara Alison N McGavin; Charlotte Burns McGavin; Jessie (Stella) McGavin; Winifred Ellen Taylor; Grace Lockhart Thomson McGavin and 1 other

Occupation: medical doctor
Managed by: Peter Norman McGavin
Last Updated:

About Major-General (Sir) Dr Donald McGavin

Major-General (Dr) Sir Donald Johnstone McGavin, Kt., C.M.G., D.S.O. A.D.M.S. New Zealand Division, inter D.G.M.S. New Zealand.

Dr Donald McGavin was born in Rochester, Kent, England in 1876, and was educated at the University of Birmingham. He was registered as medical practitioner in 1903 and came to New Zealand after serving in the Boer War. He was assistant director of New Zealand's medical forces during World War I and ended with the rank of Brigadier General. Although he became a well known doctor and surgeon in Wellington it was for his services to New Zealand's war effort that he was knighted in 1921. He did not retire from the Army until 1923 and only then did he resume private practice. From 1920 to 1924 McGavin was honorary surgeon to the governor general.

7th Oct 1880: The following passengers were on board the emigrant ship Waikato, which arrived in Auckland on Sunday from London after a passage of 90 days: Second Cabin: Mr John McGavin, Miss Jessie McGavin, Mr Donald McGavin, Miss Winifred McGavin.

5th Dec 1900: Dr Donald McGavin, son of Mr and Mrs McGavin of Tokomaru Bay, passed his final MB exam at London University with double first-class honours, gained first place in obstetric medicine, gained gold medal with accompanying exhibition of 30 pounds/year for two years and also gold medal for forensic medicine. It is most unusual for any candidate to win two out of the three gold medals.

12th Feb 1903: Dr Donald McGavin, son of Mr J. McGavin, of Tokomaru Bay, who has had a distinguished career in England, and also saw service in South Africa, arrived at Wellington by the Mokoia yesterday, having come from England in the P and O steamer India. Dr McGavin arrives in Gisborne by the Mokoia on Saturday and proceeds to his home at Tokomaru (Bay).

Dr. D. McGavin arrived from England by the Westralia and proceeded to his home at Tokomaru (Bay). Reported 14th Feb 1903.

The Friendly Societies of the Makotuku, Norsewood and Ormondville districts received a wire from Dr D. McGavin stating that he has definitely decided to take up his residence in the district. Reported 21st Mar 1903.

1 Feb 1904, Dr McGavin officiated at public vaccination in Ormondville and Makutuku last Saturday. Next Saturday he will conduct vaccination free of cost at Norsewood.

Dr McGavin, son of Mr J McGavin of Nuhaka, resigned his appointment at Makotuku, and went to England with his wife on the Waiwera to study eye diseases. Reported 26th Mar 1904.

1906, Donald Burns McGavin is born to Mrs Mary Allan McGavin, wife of Dr Donald Johnstone McGavin.

8 Apr, 1909, Dr McGavin lectured on "Suprapubic Lithotomy" at the Wellington Trained Nurses' Association conference.

He lived at 220 Willis St. Historic Tudor-style house still stands (cnr Willis & Ghuznee Streets), protected by heritage status.

1 Dec 1909: Photographs of Dr McGavin's new house on the Willis St, Ghuznee St corner in Wellington were published in "Progress". This distinctive tudor-style house still stands in 2010.

Dr McGavin was also a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in London, a Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians; and he served on numerous committees, commissions and boards. He lived in his house until 1947 and died on 8th May 1960. He had a wife, (Lady) Mary (married in 1903, nee Chapple, sister of a well-known medico), who died in 1955, and one son. His son, Donald, is one of the surgeons to the Leicester Royal Infirmary.

4 Dec 1912: Arrivals: Maunganui, s.s. Worrall, from Sydney direct: Saloon: Dr McGavin.

7 Aug 1913: Sailing for London, via way ports, today, the Shaw Savill and Albion Company's R.M.S. Arawa is taking the following passengers: First saloon: From Wellington: Mrs W. Mcgavin, Dr W McGavin, Master Mcgavin.

28 Jul 1914: Auckland: The Makura brought the following passengers from Vancouver: First saloon: Mesdames McGavin and child, Dr D McGavin.

28 Feb 1915: Dr McGavin (Wellington) was elected chairman of the New Zealand branch of the British Medical Association.

24 Apr 1915: The medical staff of the stationary hospital to be established in the field whereever the New Zealand expeditionary Force may be has been appointed. The hospital will be under the command of Lieutenant Colonel McGavin, F.R.C.S., of Wellington.

He survived sinking of the British Transport Marquette after it was torpedoed in the Aegean Sea on 23rd Oct 1915.

2 Nov 1915: The staff of the No. 1 New Zealand Stationary Hospital, under Surgeon-Colonel McGavin, were on board the British transport Marquette, which was sunk in the Aegean Sea on 23 Oct. Ten New Zealand nurses and a certain number of male members of the hospital staff are among the missing, believed to be drowned.

24 Jan 1916: Lieut.-Col. D. J. McGavin, medical officer in charge of No. 1 New Zealand Base Hospital in Egypt, was cited as an example of the efficiency of New Zealand native schools. The primary portion of his youth was spent at a native school, of which his father (Mr J. McGavin) was headmaster. Mr McGavin, now a superannuated teacher, is in Auckland as one of the members of the Native Schools Association which has been holding its conference in Parnell.

16 Aug 1917: London: Gallant New Zealand Officers: Award for Distinguished Service: Colonel D. J. McGavin, at great risk, successfully evacuated wounded during heavy offensive. [Moments before the Marquette sank, despite the great list to port and downward motion of the ship, he went down two decks to the hospital cabins to ascertain that all the patients had been brought up.]

3 Jan 1919: Wellington: Companion of St. Michael (honour) was conferred on New Zealander Colonel D. McGavin.

Dr McGavin was a brother of Mrs. J. M. Taylor, Whakaki, and of Mrs A. A. MacDonald, Opawa.

Dr McGavin was a son of Mr John McGavin, for many years master of the native school at Tokomaru Bay.

Cremated 10 May 1960 at Karori Crematorium.

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Major-General (Sir) Dr Donald McGavin's Timeline

August 19, 1876
Rochester, Kent, UK
September 23, 1906
Age 30
Wellington, Wellington City, Wellington, New Zealand
May 8, 1960
Age 83
Wellington, New Zealand