Edinburgh World Heritage - Learn more about the characterful James Gregory

 

Learn more about the characterful James Gregory

James Gregory, Professor of the Practice of Medicine in the University of Edinburgh became a professor when he was just 23 years old.  The university had an excellent reputation in medicine, and James Gregory took a leading part in the teaching and examination work at the medical school.  He was described as a large man of striking appearance, a great lecturer, popular with his students, and showing great kindness and understanding towards them.


But he was also very hot-tempered and devoted a lot of energy to feuds.  One feud in 1793 involved James Hamilton, professor of midwifery at Edinburgh University. A quarrel ended with Gregory beating Hamilton with his cane. For this he was taken to court and fined £100, which would be around £6,000 in modern values.  When paying the fine Gregory said he would be happy to pay another £100 for the chance to beat Hamilton again.  

Despite such eccentricities James Gregory’s professional skills were very highly regarded.  This was confirmed in 1799 when George III appointed him his first physician in Scotland.  This commission was renewed on 18 May 1820 by George IV.  Sadly, by then James Gregory was seriously ill and he died in 1821.

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