Sir Edward Charles Stirling

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Image MLDHS Archive

Text Karen Agutter and Ann Herraman

Edward Charles Stirling (8 September 1848 – 20 March 1919), eldest son of Hon. Edward Stirling M.L.C. was born at Strathalbyn, educated at St Peter’s College Adelaide and graduated from Cambridge University with a  B.A. with honours in natural science in 1869, M.A. and M.B. in 1872, and M.D. in 1880. During his lifetime he was, amongst other things, a surgeon at St George’s Hospital, London, the first professor of physiology at the University of Adelaide, elected to the South Australian Legislative Assembly for North Adelaide, the first President of the State Children’s Council, and a Director of the South Australian Museum.

Stirling was also actively involved in the women’s suffrage movement and campaigned for the education for women and girls, including advocating for women to be admitted to Adelaide University’s School of Medicine. In 1877 Stirling married Jane Gilbert. The couple had five daughters and two sons, both of whom died at a young age.  Stirling was knighted in 1917 and received a gold medal from the Queen of Holland for his services to science. After his death in 1919 an obituary in the Chronicle [29 Mar 1919] named him as ‘one of Australia’s most distinguished scientists and scholars [whose]

… reputation was world-wide, and his career one … of brilliant and ever widening success’.

The Mount Lofty District Historical Society has a considerable collection of information and photos of The Stirling family and their home, St Vigeans. If you would like to find out more, or contribute your own memories of this family to the archives contact us at or drop into the History Centre at the Coventry Library, 63 Mount Barker Road, Stirling.