200th Session of the Royal Medico-Chirurgical Society of Glasgow

Congratulations to the Royal Medico-Chirurgical Society of Glasgow on the commencement of its 200th session.  The Society dates its foundation back to the Glasgow Medical Society which was founded in October 1814.  The guiding spirit of the Glasgow Medical Society was the then President of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, Dr Robert Watt.

Watt had previous experience of medical societies having helped inaugurate a medical society in Paisley in 1805 and was also a member of the London Medical and Chirurgical Society.  Right from its inception the Glasgow Medical Society had a very close connection with the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, meeting in Faculty Hall in St Enoch Square.

Faculty Hall, St Enoch Square, Glasgow

Faculty Hall, St Enoch Square, Glasgow

In 1823 Mr James Brown complained ‘of the coldness and uncomfortable nature of the Hall, and moved that a committee be appointed to enquire into the matter whether if might be better to attempt some alterations or to find some other room in town better adapted to the purpose.’   Whatever the outcome of this separate committee, meetings continued to be held in the building at St Enoch Square and, when the Faculty moved in 1862 to its present location in St Vincent Street, meetings of the Society were transferred there too.  Very likely because of its close connections with the Faculty, the Glasgow Medical Society did not have its own library (unlike other medical societies such as the Greenock Medical and Chirurgical Association).  However, essays read out at Society meetings were bound into a series of 28 volumes covering a wide range of early nineteenth century medical interests.

Glasgow Medical Society bound volumes of essays

Glasgow Medical Society bound volumes of essays.  The essays date from 1815-1843

In 1866 the Glasgow Medical Society amalgamated with the Medico-Chirurgical Society of Glasgow which had been instituted in 1844.  This newly-amalgamated society took the name of the latter society but dated its foundation back to 1814.   In 1907 the Medico-Chirurgical Society of Glasgow absorbed the Glasgow Pathological and Clinical Society which had been founded by William Tennant Gairdner in 1873.

A further merger occurred in 1944 with the absorption of the Glasgow and West of Scotland Medical Association.  The Association had been founded in 1868 specifically for the publication of the Glasgow Medical Journal. The journal had experienced financial difficulties since its inception and the merger in 1944 helped to place it on a sounder financial footing.

The society’s centenary celebrations were postponed due to the First World War but were eventually held in November 1919.  A special banquet was held in the Grosvenor Restaurant in Gordon Street.  Tickets were priced at 12/6d each.  John Fergus wrote a poem to celebrate the event and the President of the Royal Society of Medicine, Sir Humphry Rolleston read out a message of congratulations to the Society.

Front page of poem written by John Fergus for the Centenary of the Medico-Chirurgical Society of Glasgow

Front page of poem written by John Fergus for the Centenary Banquet of the Medico-Chirurgical Society of Glasgow, November 1919

The crowning glory of the evening, however, was when the President, Mr A Ernest Maylard read out a letter that he had received only four days previously from Mr Monro, the Secretary of Scotland:

‘I have it in command to acquaint you that His Majesty has been graciously pleased to direct that the Society shall be known henceforth as “The Royal Medico-Chirurgical Society of Glasgow.” ‘

This was a huge achievement and a mark of the high esteem in which the Society was, and continues to be, held.  We wish the Society well for its next two hundred years.

Further details about the Royal Medico-Chirurgical Society of Glasgow including its current syllabus can be found on the Society’s web page.

The archives of all the societies mentioned above are held in the archives of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. For further details please email library@rcpsg.ac.uk

One thought on “200th Session of the Royal Medico-Chirurgical Society of Glasgow

  1. Pingback: Glasgow Pathological and Clinical Society | College Library

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