|Description||Skae was born in Edinburgh on 5 July 1814, one of the two sons of David Skae, builder and architect, and his wife, Helen Lothian. At the age of fourteen Skae enrolled as a student in the arts faculty of St Andrews University, leaving at the age of sixteen to work as a clerk in an Edinburgh lawyer's office. He then entered the Edinburgh extra-mural medical school, becoming a licentiate of the College of Surgeons, Edinburgh, in 1835, and a fellow in 1836. After this he became a partner of Dr Davidson, a general practitioner in Edinburgh. In 1836, Skae became lecturer in medical jurisprudence in the extra-mural school, and his lectures proved to be popular. At the same time he became surgeon to the Lock Hospital and held this appointment for ten years. |
Skae wrote several original articles on syphilis, and was also appointed as an examiner in medicine at St Andrews University, which led to an honorary degree of MD being conferred on him in 1842. In the same year he succeeded Robert Knox as one of the lecturers on anatomy in the extra-mural school in Edinburgh. In 1846 he was appointed physician superintendent at the Morningside Asylum (later the Royal Edinburgh Asylum), and held this post until his death. In 1863 he was president of the Association of Medical Officers of Asylums, and in 1873 was nominated Morison lecturer in insanity at the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh.
Skae's most significant contribution was in the field of mental disease. During his period of office the Royal Edinburgh Asylum doubled in size, and Skae brought about improvements in the accommodation by providing cottages for small groups of patients. In his published work Skae was interested in the classification of mental disease, general paralysis, alcoholism, and the legal aspects of lunacy. His last years were overshadowed by illness, and he died at his home, Tipperlinn House, Morningside Place, Edinburgh, on 18 April 1873 from cancer of the oesophagus.
[Source: Dictionary of National Biography]
Contents: Notes taken from lectures by John Fletcher on physiology, 1833-1834