Alice Woodward Horsley
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Alice Woodward Horsley

Alice Horsley

Alice Woodward

(1871-02-03)3 February 1871
Auckland, New Zealand
Died7 November 1957(1957-11-07) (aged 86)
Papatoetoe, New Zealand
EducationUniversity of Otago Medical School
OccupationGeneral practitioner
Medical career
FieldAnaesthetics, midwifery, general practice

Alice Woodward Horsley (née Woodward; 3 February 1871 – 7 November 1957) was a New Zealand doctor, and the first registered woman doctor in Auckland.

Early life and education

Horsley was born in Auckland, New Zealand, on 3 February 1871, to Laura née Young, a schoolteacher, and William Woodward, a farmer who had also been a teacher.[1] Horsley left school and 13 and was educated at home after that. After extra tuition from friends of the family in Latin and chemistry, she was able to enrol to study medicine in 1894 at the University of Otago.[1] When Horsley graduated alongside Constance Frost, Daisy Platts and Jane Kinder in 1900, only two women had previously gained medical degrees in New Zealand, Emily Siedeberg and Margaret Cruickshank.[1]


Horsley moved to Auckland after graduation and was the first woman doctor registered in Auckland.[1][2] She had rooms on Queen Street above a chemist. Between 1901 and 1902, she was the first woman employed at the Auckland Hospital, where she held a position as honorary bacteriologist and pathologist, until Constance Frost was appointed.[1]

Horsley met Arthur John Horsley through his work as an apprentice pharmacist downstairs from her practice. They were married on 9 December 1903 at St James' Anglican Church, Mangere.[1]

In 1917 the couple moved to Symonds Street, where Horsley practised for approximately 40 years from a surgery attached to the family home.[1] With four children, running a house and medical practice was difficult. She was known to sometimes ring home during administration of an anaesthetic to ask someone to turn the jam off, and her children recalled completing homework in the back of the car while she attended patients.[1][3]

From 1915 to around 1936, Horsley was honorary anaesthetist to the Auckland Hospital.[2] From 1936-1946, she was an anaesthetist at the Mater Misericordiae Hospital, and worked privately for surgeons including Sir Carrick Robertson and James Hardie Neil.[1]

Horsley's humanitarian values led her to treat some patients free of charge, and sometimes donate money to patients. She also took on unmarried mothers as domestic help. Horsley served as an anaesthetist in the Military Hospital during WWI.[2] Horsley worked throughout the plague scare of 1900 and the 1918 influenza epidemic, and was a member of the medical relief team after the Hawke's Bay earthquake of 1931, in which hundreds were killed and thousands injured.[1]

During the economic depression of the 1930s, Horsley became the regular doctor for the non-denominational Dock Street Mission medical clinic, which had been opened to serve patients who could not afford to pay for medical care.[2] Her dedication to the mission led to her appointment as OBE in 1939.[4][1]

Horsley died in Papatoetoe on 7 November 1957. She was survived by three daughters and a son; her husband had died in 1950.[1]


In the 1939 New Year Honours, Horsley was apopinted an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, for social welfare services.[4] In 2017, Horsley was selected as one of the Royal Society Te Ap?rangi's 150 women in 150 words, celebrating the contributions of women to knowledge in New Zealand.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Anderson, Kathleen. "Alice Woodward Horsley". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d Mary Creese (2010), Ladies in the Laboratory III: South African, Australian, New Zealand, and Canadian women in science : nineteenth and early twentieth centuries ; a survey of their contributions, OCLC 699866310, Wikidata Q104657105
  3. ^ a b "Alice Woodward Horsley". Royal Society Te Ap?rangi. Retrieved 2021.
  4. ^ a b "No. 34585". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 January 1939. p. 15.

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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