Aberdeen Medico-Chirurgical Society
Minute book 1
22 December 1789 - 16 September 1791
Minute book of the Aberdeen Medical Society.
Pages 1-4 contain a list of regulations of the Society and signatures of members, some of which have been scored out.
'Regulations of the Medical Society:
1. That the members meet at three o'clock afternoon every Tuesday in the place appointed for their meeting. Or at any other time.
2. That every one of the members be president by turns in the order of the catalogue.
3. That the President's Business is to open the meeting by reading from a Book belonging to the Society an Abstract of the Proceedings of last day, that this Abstract be fairly and distinctly wrote into this book previous to the meeting he sits President, that after this he read or deliver what he has to say on the subjects or queries proposed the week before. [It is noted that this rule is now obselete]
4. That every one of the members (after the President has done speaking) may rise in their turns and deliver their opinions upon the subject.
5. That after all the members have delivered their opinions, the President of the day shall propose the subjects or queries of next week's discussion and then dissolve the meeting.
6. That one of the members be appointed as permanent treasurer to the Society.
7. That the members who absent themselves shall pay a fine of sixpence.
8. That the President of the day shall open the meeting in less than fifteen minutes after the hour, that if he be out of the way beyond that time he must pay a fine of twopence for every minute.
9. That every member pay a fine of a half penny per minute of absence, that if he be late twelve minutes or more he be considered absent from the whole meeting and pay accordingly.
10. That allowance be made for members who have but lately become Students of Medicine that they may be exempted from sitting president for some reasonable time, that so long as they remain mutes, their business be to call over the members, note the absent and late, receive the fines and pay them to the Treasurer.
11. That if there be no mutes it be the business of the last day's president to do the above offices.
12. That he whose business it is to call the catalogue, pay one penny pr. minute of absence till twelve minutes and that the president see to this.
13. That excuses for absence be given in to the President.
14. That no member commit any indecency during the meeting or in any way attempt to discourage the speaker or put him out of countenance, that such offenders shall be subjected to what fine the President of the day shall think fit or even be extruded the society if the heinousness of the fault shall seem to require it.
15. That none be admitted but members.
16. That no one tell anybody who is not of the society any of our proceedings so as to make sport of them or make the society or any of its members be thought disrespectfully of without incurring their censure or being subjected to such penalty as the Society may be pleased to inflict.
17. That any who would afterwards become a member of this society, shall on being proposed by one of the members be admitted or not as a majority shall determine.
18. That the admission of new as well as the expulsion of offending members shall be determined by Ballot.
19. That if the fines be insufficient to defray the expense of fire and light or other expenses that may be incurred that deficiency shall be supplied by an equal contribution of the members.
20. That the book containing the Transactions of this society be delivered into the hands of the ensuing president by his predecessor and be kept clean and in good order. (Obsolete)
21. That the book be shewn to none but those who are members without the permission of a majority of the members.
22. That everyone by becoming a member subjects himself to these regulations.
To these on Tuesday Decr. 21st 1789 the following subscribed their names.
Alex. Mitchell, [name scored out], Colin Allan, George Kerr, George Rose, James McGrigor, [name scored out], James Robertson, James Smith, John Gordon, John Grant, [name scored out], Robert Donald, [name scored out], William Shepherd.' [Joseph Mackay, listed as one of the twelve founding members on the Founders' Plaque is, along with several other individuals, noted as subscribing sometime between 21 December 1789 and October 1790. The name of James Moir is perhaps one of those scored out in the above list and George Rose is not listed on the plaque.]
The presentations given by various members at the early meetings of the Society are as follows:
[It appears from the minutes that the President (or 'Praeses' as is commonly denoted) delivered a discourse on the question proposed for each meeting.]
22 December 1789
I. How far is the knowledge of mathematics consistent with and useful to medicine?
President: Alexander Mitchell; Proposer: James Robertson
5 January 1790
II. Is an accurate knowledge of anatomy absolutely necessary to medicine?
President: George Kerr; Proposer: Alexander Mitchell
12 January 1790
III. What parts of anatomy does it concern the Physician to be most acquainted with?
President: James McGrigor; Proposer: George Kerr
19 January 1790
IV. History and treatment of gangrene in mortification.
President: James Robertson; Proposer: James McGrigor
26 January 1790
V. History and treatment of cancer.
President: James Smith; Proposer: James McGrigor
2 February 1790
VI. History of digestion.
President: John Gordon; Proposer: James Robertson
9 February 1790
VII. Of Synochus
President: John Grant; Proposer: James McGrigor
23 February 1790
VIII. An anatomical and pathological account of the nerves.
President: Joseph Mackay; Proposer: James Smith
2 March 1790
IX. Of the small pox.
President: Roger Pemberton; Proposer: John Gordon
9 [March 1790]
X. Treatment of ulcers on the legs.
President: William Shepherd; Proposer: Jno. Grant
[Dates not entered from this point.]
XI. Of the Synanche Maligna
President: Alexander Mitchell; Proposer: Jos. Mackay
XII. The history of Peruvian Bark
President: Andrew Davidson; Proposer: Roger Pemberton
XIII. The history, causes, and symptoms of inflammation in general.
President: George Kerr; Proposer: William Shepherd
XIV. The history of blood-letting when requisite and when hurtfull (sic).
President: James McGrigor; Proposer: Alexander Mitchell
XV. The natural history and uses of mercury.
President: James Smith; Proposer: Andrew Davidson
'During the next week there was no question agitated, that week a plan for anatomical dissection was put in execution. A dog was dissected and at the different meetings there presided Mr. James Smith, Mr. John Grant, Mr. Joseph McKay and Mr. Robt. Donald. In their several parts they acquitted themselves so very much to the satisfaction of all present as to merit the thanks of the society at large by their President. It was then determined too as the society is sensible of the utility of this plan for improving themselves in anatomical knowledge that for the future it is to be followed and that every week there shall be one day appropriated to this end to go over the skeleton first and of it a part is to be assigned to each member without distinction beginning at Mr. Alexr. Mitchell who was to read a discourse on the bones in general and have for his part the os fiontis' (pages 11-12).
XVI. An account of the causes, symptoms, and cure of the Phthisis Pulmonalis.
President: Roger Budg. Pemberton; Proposer: George Kerr
XVII. The effects of climate, situation [and] seasons on diseases in general.
President: Alexr. Mitchell; Proposer: James McGrigor
[From page 14 onwards more detailed notes of meetings are recorded.]
10 July, Place of meeting: Magistrand Class
Question: The history, effects and operations of blisters; President: James McGrigor
[It is noted that the next meeting would take place three weeks from this date; on the 2 August it is recorded that due to the small attendance the meeting would be adjourned until the following week (9 August, see page 14).]
Question: Exercise as a Preventative of and remedy in diseases (page 17).
President: Andrew Wood; Proposer: Alexander Mitchell
Election of Treasurer and Secretary [the minute of the meeting held on 12 October notes that McGrigor had acted as Secretary up to this point]. Mr. G. Kerr was elected Treasurer and Mr. Robertson was elected Secretary. It is recorded: 'We then proceeded to the Tavern where we spent the greater part of the meeting in mirth and jollity'.
Question: The History, Causes and Cure of Pleurisy (page 22).
President: George Rose; Proposer: George Kerr
'Mr. Mitchels' Discourse was without a paper, and accordingly met with the applause of the Society; it is the first attempt of the kind that we have met with. The _ and conclusion of Mr. McGregor's Discourse was very pathetic, he being about to leave the place for some months. If the author had done it justice by a good delivery, it might have brought tears from our eyes...Messrs. McGregor and Shepherd rec[eived] the thanks of [the] Society for past services'.
The expulsion of a member from the Society for continued absences is recorded as is the passing of a new regulation that the 'best Discourse of every regular Meeting should be recorded in a Book [appointed] for that Purpose.
Question: Puerperal Fever (page 29).
President: Robert Stewart; Proposer: Joseph Machray [Mackay]
It was agreed to meet in future in the Greek Class at six rather than seven o'clock.
It was agreed that each member pay three half pence every fortnight, the collection to be used to purchase medical pamphlets 'whose price shall not exceed half a crown or perhaps any other book of greater value if the Society shall think proper'.
Question: Diabetes (page 33).
President: Alexander Mitchell; Proposer: Robert Stewart
'The Society this evening received three donations, as the beginning of a Library
1 Sydenhami Opera from Mr. John Grant
2 Salmon's Ars Chirurgica 2 Vol Mr. A. Mitchel
3 Graham's Physiological Essays from Mr. J. Robertson
As it is now necessary that the Society should have a Librarian, there appeared two candidates for that office John Grant and Wm. Hendrie. The former carried it by a majority of 10 to 5.'
Robert Donald delivered an anatomical discourse on the tibia and fibula.
Several designs and mottos were laid before the Society to choose from, 'one to be engraved on copper and an impression given to every member who had been one full year in the Society'. [The design by Mr. Hendrie showing the image of Hippocrates was chosen. It was to become the seal of the Society (see 'The Heritage of the Med-Chi', p.95).]. Also list of books and pamphlets presented to Society by William Hendrie, Mr. Grant and Mr. Rose including 'A Dissertation on Lues Venerea' and 'Art of Surgery'.
'When the business of the Society was over George Kerr read an essay on the 'Passions'. It was so much approved of that a book was appointed to be got, and into it should be inserted any case, essay, discourse or aphorism?if judged worthy of insertion by a majority. This essay of George Kerr's was appointed to be inserted into the book by the almost unanimous consent of the Society'.
15 February (page 41)
Includes copy of letter sent to Dr. William Livingston inviting him to become Honorary President of the Society with copy of his reply accepting post. There follows a declaration in Latin and a list of the duties and privileges assigned to the Honorary President. Also reference to plate: 'The plate for the Society being now engraven, and several impressions cast off; the whole was delivered to Dr. Livingston'. Also note of members who received their tickets having served one year in the Society including Alex. Mitchell, George Rose, James Robertson and James McGrigor.
18 February (page 49)
Reference to discourse on poisons sent by McGrigor [also see 11 March] and note of books presented to Society by Dr. Livingstone [sic] and Mr. Allan.
List of books donated to the Society.
Note of member who proposed that Society purchase a book costing 2 shillings: 'But he deserted the Soc[iety] soon after and carried off the 2 sh. without giving the book' (page 51).
Question: Small Pox (page 53).
President: Robert Donald; Proposer: John Gordon
The purchase of 'Cullen's Physiology', 8 volumes, for 2 s. 6 d., is recorded. Also mention of three fourths majority required before any law could be annulled or altered, or any new law introduced.
'This evening was brought before the Society the skeleton of James Henderson who was executed in October last. The bones were cleaned and put together for the use of the Society by James Robertson, who received their united thanks for this service'.
Note of new regulations regarding library.
Review of laws with three new laws enacted, the first noting: 'No excuses are valid but disease, being out of town, the death of a relation, being sent by any Physician in town to visit a patient, or called to see one of their own. In which last case it must be certified by two of the members of the Society'.
Question: 'Phthisis Pulmonalis' (page 63).
President: James Bannerman; Proposer: Andrew Wood
The Society 'received in donation the right of a hall to assemble in, ready fitted up' from Dr. William Livingston. It is noted that all future meetings will be held there and the books of the library and skeleton transferred to the hall. There is also listed several donations to the library including 'Meads Works' donated by George Rose and James Robertson and five volumes of manuscript lectures by different Professors at Edinburgh from James McGrigor: 'This last gentleman is returned to Aberdeen and to attend the meetings of the Society'.
Question: 'Fractures of the Long Bones' (page 66).
President: James Robertson; Proposer: Colin Allan
McGrigor proposes distinction between extraordinary and corresponding members. Note of books bought for Society by McGrigor and Smith ('Lind on Diseases of Hot Climates and Duncan Medical Commentaries') and donations to library.
3 June (page 76)
New regulations regarding extraordinary members put forward.
10 June (pages 84-85)
List of donations for museum and library. It is also recorded: 'The Honorary President presented the society with a foetus aged four months'.
Subject: 'Erythema' (pages 87-91).
Subject: 'Peruvian Bark' [McGrigor as President] (pages 93-99).
Subject: 'Antimony' (pages 111-116).
President: Mr. Thomson; Proposer: Mr. Donald
Includes many references to McGrigor's comments on this subject and also note of Mr. Robertson's remarks regarding Huntly: 'Mr. Robertson mentioned that the people of Huntly were more subject to Scrophula than any others. This he attributes to the place, as many went there quite healthy, and after residing some years were affected with it'. Donations to the library include 'Fleming's Physiology', 'Irvine on the red and quill bark' and 'Treatise on Medical Electricity'.
26 August (page 124)
List of items bought for the Society which it is recorded were 'Elegantly bound for the Society by Mr. J. McGrigor in a Donation'.
Subject: 'Typhous Fever' [sic] (pages 127-128).
President: Mr. McGrigor; Proposer: Mr. Robt. Donald
'The Discourse delivered by the President possessed very great merit, but suffered greatly in the delivery, he being indisposed, and the gentleman to whom it was given to read, not being acquainted sufficiently with the hand'.
16 September (page 129)
Proposal by McGrigor for discussion of surgical subject after discussion of medical subject had taken place. 'As it was agreed that one member should be obliged to write on this subject (as in the Medical) Mr. Hendrie proposed, that the member should have it in his choice, either to speak on a Surgical Subject in English or on one from the Materia Medica in Latin'.
At the end of the volume there is an 'Appendix Legum' noting all the new regulations enacted during the period covered in the minute book (23 in total). There is also a list of the office-bearers and members of the Society (including corresponding members), as well as a list of those who had left or were expelled from the Society.
1 volume (0.03 linear metres)