|Description||Stewart was born in Edinburgh on 23 September 1837. He was educated at Edinburgh High School and at the University of Edinburgh, where he graduated MD in 1858. While an undergraduate he was elected one of the presidents of the Royal Medical Society. After graduation he studied medicine at the universities and hospitals of Berlin, Prague, and Vienna, under, among others, R. Virchow, J. L. Schoenlein, and L. Traube.|
After his return to Edinburgh, Stewart became house physician at the old infirmary under Professor John Hughes Bennett and Professor Thomas Laycock. In 1861 he lectured on materia medica and dietetics. In 1862 he was appointed pathologist to the infirmary, and lecturer on pathology at Surgeons' Hall, as well as a physician to the Edinburgh Hospital for Sick Children. In 1866 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. During these early years Stewart worked incessantly; made numerous detailed observations on the symptoms and pathology of waxy kidney; and wrote papers on various kidney conditions and other subjects. In 1869 he published A Practical Treatise on Bright's Disease of the Kidneys.
Unsuccessful in his application for the chair of pathology in 1869-obtained by William Rutherford Sanders-Stewart resigned his appointments to fill the posts of junior ordinary physician in the infirmary and lecturer on clinical medicine. In 1873 he began to lecture in the extramural school on the practice of physic; he swiftly became the most popular teacher on medicine outside the university, and introduced many practical improvements in teaching methods.
In 1876 Stewart devoted himself exclusively to teaching and consultation work. In the same year he was appointed professor of the practice of physic in Edinburgh University becoming also one of the professors of clinical medicine, with wards in the Royal Infirmary. Stewart showed himself to be one of the most successful lecturers in the university; moreover, in consultation work he had one of the largest practices in Scotland, and on many occasions he was called to cases abroad.
He was president of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (of which he was a fellow) from 1889 to 1891, and for two years was also president of the Edinburgh Medico-Chirurgical Society. In 1894 he was knighted.
As a clinical teacher Stewart was clear and systematic, and he conducted his class by means of question and answer, while the students in rotation listened to abnormal sounds in the patient's chest or otherwise examined him. As a lecturer he was equally lucid and precise, with an ability to go straight to the main point in each case, so that his instruction was easily followed and understood even by the least experienced student. He took a foremost part in founding and organizing the Medical Students' Association, and for two terms was president of the Medical Missionary Society, in which he was keenly interested. His views on diseases of the kidneys were widely accepted by his peers. Long before brain surgery became common, he persuaded Joseph Lister to perform operations on the brain for traumatic epilepsy. Stewart's lectures were widely quoted on the continent, and several of them were translated into French, German, and Russian, even becoming set texts in several German universities.
Stewart died at his address at 19 Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, on 3 February 1900.
[Source: Dictionary of National Biography]
Contents: Lectures on the practice of physic, c1885; lectures on medicine, 1887