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Biography of Robert Reid Kalley

Robert Reid Kalley
Robert Reid Kalley

Robert Reid Kalley graduated MD from the University in 1838. He was a Presbyterian and medical missionary in Madeira and Brazil.

Kalley was born in Glasgow in 1809, son of Robert Kalley, a merchant. As both parents died during his childhood, Kalley was brought up by his stepfather, and attended the Glasgow Grammar School before enrolling at the University of Glasgow in 1823 to study an Arts course. From 1826, Kalley studied Medicine for three years, qualifying in Pharmacy and Surgery from the University in 1829.

Gaining experience by serving as a ship's doctor on vessels in Bombay and the Far East and as a medical practitioner in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Kalley returned to the University of Glasgow to obtain his degree of Doctor of Medicine in 1838 after having successfully applied for missionary service in China. However, in the same year as his graduation, Kalley accompanied his new wife to Madeira for a short period of convalescence from tuberculosis. They would remain there for 8 years.

Kalley practiced as a physician, obtaining his Portuguese medical diploma in Lisbon in 1839 and was ordained in the same year by Congregationalists in London. He carried out philanthropic work on behalf of the poor in Madeira, providing free medical treatment and opening schools. He also went on to lead the first Presbyterian Church of Portugal in Funchal in 1845, but was forced to flee Madeira the following year after a period of persecution on account of his protestant proselytism, viewed as an attack on the state religion and heresy.

After a period in Boston, Massachusetts, Kalley aided the entry of the many Madeiran refugees to North America, and consequently Portuguese Presbyterian Churches were established in Illinois. Portuguese-speaking Kalley then moved to Brazil in 1845 where he became the founder of the first evangelical church in Brazil in 1858, the Igreja Evangélica Fluminense, and the first indigenous evangelical church in the north-east of Brazil in 1873, the Igreja Evangélica Pernambucana.


Printed Materials

  • William B Forsyth, The Wold from Scotland, The Story of Robert Reid Kalley - pioneer missionary (Evangelical Press, Durham: 1988)

Archival Materials

  • Addison, W. Innes, The Matriculation Albums of the University of Glasgow from 1728 to 1858
  • GUA31247 Medical Matriculations 1803-42 (database)


Robert Reid Kalley
Born 8 September 1809.
Died 17 January 1888.
GU Degree: MD, 1838;
University Link: Graduate
Occupation categories: missionaries; physicians
English snippet: Medical graduate of the University of Glasgow, prominent medical missionary in Madeira and Brazil
Record last updated: 28th Aug 2013

Country Associations

Scotland Scotland, Glasgow, Mount Florida
Place of Birth

Scotland Scotland, Edinburgh
Place of Death

Brazil Brazil

Portugal Portugal, Madeira

United States United States, Illinois

University Connections

University Roles