John Abercrombie (physician)

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John Abercrombie
John Abercrombie b1780.jpg
Born (1780-10-10)10 October 1780
Died 14 November 1844(1844-11-14) (aged 64)
19 York Place, Edinburgh
Nationality Scottish
Occupation Physician, philosopher

John Abercrombie, FRSE, FRCSE, FRCPE (10 October 1780, Aberdeen – 14 November 1844, Edinburgh), was a Scottish physician and philosopher. The Chambers Biographical Dictionary says of him that after Dr James Gregory's death, he was "recognized as the first consulting physician in Scotland".[1]

The son of the Reverend George Abercrombie, the minister of East Church, Aberdeen, he was educated at the Grammar School and Marischal College, University of Aberdeen. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, and after graduating as M.D. in 1803 he settled down to practise in that city, where he soon attained a leading position.

From 1816 he published various papers in the Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal, which formed the basis of his more extensive works: Pathological and Practical Researches on Diseases of the Brain and Spinal Cord, regarded as the first textbook in neuropathology, and Researches on the Diseases of the Intestinal Canal, Liver and other Viscera of the Abdomen, both published in 1828. In 1821 he was elected to the Royal College of Surgeons. For his services as a physician and philanthropist he received many marks of distinction, including the Rectorship of Marischal College.

He also found time for philosophical speculations, and in 1830 he published his Inquiries concerning the Intellectual Powers of Man and the Investigation of Truth, which was followed in 1833 by a sequel, The Philosophy of the Moral Feelings. Both works showed little originality of thought; they achieved wide popularity at the time of their publication, but have long been superseded.

An elder of the Church of Scotland, he also wrote The man of faith: or the harmony of Christian faith and Christian character (1835), which he pretended to distribute freely. In 1841, he was partially paralyzed, but was able to return to his practice of medicine. He died in 1844 of a ruptured coronary artery while preparing to visit patients. A year later, his Essays (1845) on Christian ethics were published.

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Academic offices
Preceded by
Rector of Marischal College, Aberdeen
Succeeded by