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William Hunter

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WILLIAM HUNTER: (1718-1783), anatomist; seventh of ten children of John and Agnes Hunter, and elder brother of John Hunter (1728-1793), was born at Long Calderwood, East Kil bride, Lanarkshire, on 23 May, 1718. At the age of fourteen he was sent to Glasgow University, where he remained for five years. He was intended by his father for the Scottish Church, but becoming averse to subscribing the articles, he took the advice of William Cullen (1710-1790), then practicing at Hamilton, and decided to enter the medical profession. On 24 October 1750 he obtained the degree of M.D. from Glasgow University, and about this time he left Mrs. Douglas’s family and settled as a physician in Jermyn Street. He then applied to be disfranchised by the Surgeon’s Corporation, but in 1758 he paid the surgeons a fine of 20 Pounds for having joined the College of Physicians without their previous consent. Hunter now became the leading obstetrician, and was consulted in 1762 by Queen Charlotte, to whom he was appointed physician extraordinary in 1764. In 1780 he was elected a foreign associate of the Royal Medical Society of Paris, and in 1782 of the Academy of Sciences of Paris. On March 20, 1783, notwithstanding severe illness for several days and the dissuasions of friends, he gave his introductory lecture on the operations of surgery, but fainted near to close, and had to be carried to bed. During his subsequent illness he said to his friend Charles Combe (1743-1817), “If I had strength enough to hold a pen, I would write how easy and pleasant a thing it is to die.” He died on 30 March 1783, aged 64, and was buried at St. James’s, Piccadily, in the rector’s vault.

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