What Kind of Work Did Scottish surgeons do int he Eighteenth Century?
Dr Ursula Mulcahy, MA (Durham) FRCSE
Department of Philosophy, University of Durham.
Bioethics/Philosophy of Medicine Reading Group (BPMRG)
28 April 2015
Elvet Riverside, Room 201
This work is based on the probate records of 237 surgeons and surgeon apothecaries who died between 1700 and 1799. Sixty three of the probate records contained an inventory of the deceased’s possessions. Analysis of the records shows that surgeons and surgeon-apothecaries provided most of the medical care in Scotland in the eighteenth century and that most men practiced without being members of the Edinburgh College of Surgeons or the Glasgow College of Physicians and Surgeons. All of them were equipped to make and dispense drugs and for many, this was probably their main source of income. Outside of the large towns and cities surgeons and surgeon-apothecaries often had other occupations, the commonest of which was farming. Only a minority of surgeons did operative surgery but there was an elite group of wealthy surgeons who were trained and equipped to do the more complex types of surgery.
Dr Mulcahy is a retired consultant surgeon. She is currently reading PhD at Durham that addresses medicine and science during the Scottish Enlightenment.