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John Hunter, M.D.

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JOHN HUNTER: M.D., (d. 1809), physician, was born in Perthshire, and studied medicine at Edinburgh, where he graduated M.D. in 1775. His college thesis, “De Hominum Varietatibus et harum causis,” shows him to have had a good education as well as a turn for research and correct reasoning. It was republished in an English translation by Bendyshe in 1865, as an appendix tc Blumenbach’s treatise on the same subject in the publications of the Anthropological Society. He was admitted a licentiate of the College of Physicians of London in 1777, and appointed physician to the army through the interest of Dr. Baker and Dr. Heberden. From 1781 to 1783 he was superintendent of the military hospitals in Jamaica. On returning to England he settled in practice as a physician in London. In the 1780′s he contributed to the third volume of the “Medical Transactions published by the College of Physicians” (a work mainly supported by Heberden and Baker) three papers: one the common occurrence of Typhus fever in the crowded and unventilated houses of the poor in London, another on two interesting observations in morbid anatomy, and a third on the cause of the “dry belly-ache” of the tropics. In the last of these the discovery made by Baker two years earlier, that lead in the cider was the cause of Devonshire colic, was extended by Hunter to rum which had been distilled through a leaden worm, an observation of Benjamin Franklin’s being adduced in proof. In 1788 appeared his principal work, “Observations on the Diseases of the Army in Jamaica,” which gives an amplified account of the “dry belly” and deals with yellow fever and other diseases of the troops, as well as briefly with some of the more curious Negro maladies, it was translated into German, Leipsic, 1792. He died 29 Jan. 1809 at Hill Street, Berkeley Square, London.


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