William Alexander Mackay

William Alexander Mackay (10 July 1860 – 14 July 1927) was a Scottish doctor who worked for the Rio Tinto mining company and co-founded Spain's oldest football club, Recreativo de Huelva.

William Alexander Mackay
Born10 July 1860
Latheron, Caithness, Scotland
Died14 July 1927
Heathmouth, Ross-shire, Scotland
Resting placeLogie Easter Cemetery, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland
EducationMD 1889
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh
Known forCo-founder of Spanish football club Recreativo de Huelva

Early lifeEdit

William Mackay was born in Latheron, Caithness, on 10 July 1860, the son of Anglican priest Reverend John Mackay and Wilhelmina Sutherland. He graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a medical degree in 1882.[1]

Medical careerEdit

In 1883 William Mackay began practicing as a doctor for the Rio Tinto mining company in Huelva, Andalusia, Spain.[2] His brother, John Sutherland Mackay, was the company's chief medical officer. In 1883 medical provision for Rio Tinto staff was limited to that provided by the Spanish Provincial Hospital. William inspected the Spanish Provincial Hospital in 1883 and reported to the Board of the Rio Tinto Company that the hospital was insanitary and crowded: "Small windows, placed near the roof, and clammy walls, complete the picture of a mediaeval prison".[2] The Rio Tinto Company subsequently built the English Hospital in 1884 solely for the use of their employees. William Mackay was responsible for the plan and construction of the English Hospital. In addition to Rio Tinto employees, William tended to the local poor for free on Thursdays.[3] William's experiences of working as a doctor at the Hospital, and in private practice, formed the basis of the MD thesis he submitted to the University of Edinburgh in 1889 with the title Surgery in Spain.[2]

Founding of Recreativo de HuelvaEdit

William and another Scottish doctor, Robert Russell Ross, founded a sports club for Rio Tinto Company workers. The club was originally named Huelva Recreation Club and was intended to provide physical recreation for the workers in order to improve their health. It was officially established as Recreativo de Huelva on 23 December 1889. Although the club is now known as Spain's oldest football club, their activities were not originally restricted to football: Mackay invited Ildefenso Martinez to play cricket in 1888 [3] and the club organised rugby matches in 1910.[1]

Personal lifeEdit

William Mackay's wife and their four children all died of a hereditary disease within six years of each other, between 1896 and 1902. His son Alexander died in 1896, wife Catherine and son Juanito in 1898, and daughters Anita and Molly in 1902.[3]

William Mackay was named an adopted son of the city of Huelva in 1923, and the street he lived in was named after him.[1] On receiving this honour, he said:

"The greatest sadness of my life I have suffered in Huelva, and here I have enjoyed the greatest happiness, too."[3]


William Mackay returned to Scotland in 1924 and died at Heathmouth, Ross-shire, on 14 July 1927 at the age of 67. He is buried at Logie Easter Cemetery.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Closure would be Huelva loss to Spanish football". www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  2. ^ a b c Alexander, Mackay, William (1889). "Surgery in Spain". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ a b c d "Lowe: Recreativo's British and Irish roots". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2018-07-09.