John Abercrombie

(1780—1844) physician

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John Abercrombie was born in Aberdeen on 12 October 1780 and died suddenly in Edinburgh on 14 November 1844. He was the only son of the Revd George Abercrombie. His early education was in Aberdeen at the Grammar School and then at Marischal College. In 1800 he went to Edinburgh University to study medicine; his contemporaries among the medical students there included Thomas Brown. Like Brown, he received his MD in 1803. After a year of study at St George's Hospital in London he returned to Edinburgh and started work as a general practitioner. After the death of Dr James Gregory in 1821, Abercrombie took over as Edinburgh's leading consulting physician. His two volumes of Pathological and Practical Researches (1828) on diseases of the brain and of the intestines established him a high reputation as a medical writer; these went through several editions and were translated into French and German. He was made a Fellow of both the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. In 1843, the year before his death, during the Disruption in the Scottish church he joined the seceding evangelical party that formed the Free Church. He was committed to philanthropic and missionary works both in Britain and overseas. Indeed, it was in large part the evangelical and pious character of his writings that made Abercrombie such a successful and popular author.


From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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