Allan Burns (surgeon)
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Allan Burns, (1781 – 1813) was a Scottish surgeon of brilliant promise, cut off in his thirty-second year through a puncture got in dissecting. He was the son of Revd Dr John Burns and Elizabeth Stevenson. Of his brothers, Dr John Burns (1775–1850) became Regius Professor of Surgery at the University of Glasgow; James was a shipowner and George was his partner in G & J Burns.
His favourite pupil, Granville Sharp Pattison, has a short memoir of him, prefixed to an addition of some of his writings, which were translated for text-books on the Continent. He was himself a favourite pupil of Sir Astley Cooper's, who chose him when quite young for an appointment as Physician to the Imperial Court of Russia. A huge diamond ring, which the Empress, Catherine, gave him on his leaving, was the possession of his nephew, John William Burns, but its whereabouts is now unknown.
He took the position for a three-month trial, and very early he 'got into a scrape' for dissecting a 'Russ', whom he decaptiated, and a German. The removal of any body parts was then prohibited, unless they were Tartars or Jews. He had failed to make arangments for a salary, and on discovering that government surgeons were paid £90, he returned to Scotland, where he became a highly popular lecturer on anatomy - wearing the diamond and topaz ring.
Allan and his brother, John, built up a considerable museum which provided material for teaching. The museum was eventually bought by his pupil, Granville Sharp Pattison; some of the exhibits found their way to Philadelphia.
He authored a number of publications which were quickly translated into German and were published concurrently in the United States. He also published papers in the Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal. His work on vascular pressure systems and on heart disease were seen as pioneering and were long in print.
He died in Glasgow unmarried.
- Sir George Burns, bart. His Times and Friends, by Edwin Hodder, 1890. This title on Google Books
- The Old Country Houses of the Old Glasgow Gentry, John Guthrie Smith and John Oswald Mitchell, 1878. This title on Glasgow Digital Library
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