Medical Society of London

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Lettsom House, 11 Chandos Street, London. Headquarters since 1873

The Medical Society of London is one of the oldest surviving medical societies (being organisations of voluntary association, rather than regulation or training) in the United Kingdom.

It was founded in 1773 by the Quaker physician and philanthropist Dr John Coakley Lettsome for physicians, surgeons and apothecaries who met to exchange medical news and confer about difficult cases. Lettsome himself served as president of the new society in 1775-1776, 1784–1785, 1809–1811 and 1813-1815. James Sims was president from 1786 to 1808 and during his long term of office some members of the society, led by Sir William Saunders, became so offended by his autocratic style that in 1805 they formed themselves into a new medical society, the Medical and Chirurgical Society of London, which later evolved into the Royal Society of Medicine.

The Society’s wide appeal, the possession of a valuable library (originally purchased from Sims) and freehold property (donated by Lettsome) has helped to ensure the society's success and longevity.[1] Originally based in the City of London, it moved in 1873 to its present location in Lettsom House, Chandos Street, near Cavendish Square in the heart of London’s medical community. This early 19th-century building was originally owned by the Earl of Gainsborough, and is now also home to several related societies who share the facilities.[2] The library has since been purchased by the Wellcome Trust.[3]

The Lettsomian lecture is delivered annually by a fellow of the society.

The Fothergill gold medal, named in honour of physician John Fothergill, Lettsome's patron, is awarded every three years in consultation with the Royal College of Physicians (to be awarded every five years from 2010). The present prize, founded in 1824, is funded by the will of Anthony Fothergill and prior to 1888 was awarded annually. The original award, sponsored by Lettsome, was introduced in 1787 and awarded until 1803.

Fothergill gold medal winners[edit]

Source: Source (1787–1902): [4]

  • 2012 John McGrath
  • 2004 Sir Ravinder N. Maini
  • 2001 John E. Sulston
  • 1998 Richard Peto and Rory Collins
  • 1995 Sir David Weatherall
  • 1983 Sheila Sherlock
  • 1980 Sir Francis Avery Jones
  • 1977 Cyril Astley Clarke
  • 1974 Henry Hubert Grayson Eastcott
  • Sir William Stewart Duke-Elder for his Textbook of Ophthalmology
  • 1965 Sir Peter Medawar
  • 1956 Robin Daniel Lawrence
  • 1953 Russell Brock
  • 1947 Sir John Parkinson
  • 1941 Sir Thomas Peel Dunhill
  • 1938 Sir Henry Hallett Dale
  • 1935 George Newman
  • 1929 Sir Thomas Lewis
  • 1917 Sir Leonard Rogers for his work on dysenteries, their differentiation and treatment.
  • 1914 John George Adami
  • 1911 Sir Frederick Walker Mott
  • 1908 Almroth Wright
  • 1905 Sir Frederick Treves, 1st Baronet, for his work in connection with abdominal surgery
  • 1902 Sir Patrick Manson,in recognition of the value of his work on Malaria and Tropical Diseases
  • 1899 Sydney Arthur Monckton Copeman
  • 1896 Sir Victor Horsley, Functions of the Thyroid Gland and its Applications to Treatment
  • 1893 William Richard Gowers
  • 1888 Hobart Amory Hare (USA), The Pathology, Clinical History and Diagnosis of affections of the mediastinum other than those of the heart and aorta
  • 1886 John Strahan, The Varieties and Complications of Thyphoid Fever
  • 1883 Norman Porritt
  • 1882 Thomas Michael Dolan, Whooping-cough; its Pathology and Treatment
  • 1878 John Milner Fothergill, The Antagonism of Therapeutic Agents
  • 1877 Peter Murray Braidwood
  • 1873 John Kent Spender, Therapeutic Means for the Relief of Pain
  • 1872 Edwards Crisp, On Croup
  • 1870 Sir Thomas Smith Clouston, Use of Medication in the Treatment of Insanity
  • 1868 John Clay
  • 1859 Thomas Houghton Waters
  • 1858 Thomas Herbert Barker, on Malaria and Miasmata
  • 1857 Edwin Canton
  • 1856 William Burke Ryan
  • 1854 Benjamin Ward Richardson, The Diseases of the Child before Birth
  • 1853 Sir Alfred Poland, Injuries and Wounds of the Abdomen
  • 1852 Frederick William Headland, Action of Medicines in the System
  • 1851 Richard Hodges, Haemorrhage
  • 1850 Richard Payne Cotton, On Consumption: its Nature, Symptoms and Treatment
  • 1849 John Millican
  • 1847 Silas Stedman
  • 1846 Robert Mortimer Glover, On the Pathology and Treatment of Scrofula
  • 1845 Walter Cooper Dendy
  • 1844 Henry Pratt Robarts
  • 1843 John Weaver Lever, on the Symptoms and Treatment of Organic Diseases of the Uterus
  • 1842 James Risdon Bennett, Acute Hydrocephalus
  • 1840 Samuel Osborn
  • 1838 George Pilcher, Structure and Pathology of the Ear
  • 1836 Thomas Egerton Bryant, Diseases of the Larynx and Trachea
  • 1835 George Moore (physician), on Pathology, Causes and Treatment of Puerperal Fever
  • 1834 William James Clement, Nature and Treatment of Diseases of the Urethra
  • 1831 William Augustus Guy, on Asthma
  • 1828 John George Parry
  • 1824 Robert William Bampfield, Curvatures and Diseases of the Spine
  • 1804–23 No award
  • 1803 Edward Jenner
  • 1802 No award
  • 1801 Francis Bouttatz, for his work on the Medicinal Effects of Phosphorus
  • 1795 John Mason Good, on Medical Technology
  • 1792-94 No award
  • 1791 John Lettsome, Diseases of Great Towns and the Best Means of Preventing them
  • 1790 Robert Willan, on Skin Diseases
  • 1788–1789 No award
  • 1787 William Falconer, on the Influence of the Passions on Disorders of the Body (first award)


After the somewhat autocratic 22-year presidency of James Sims a motion was passed in 1805 that :"'No gentlemen be eligible to the office of President or Vice-president for more than two years in succession." The Presidents are listed below with their year of election to the position.

Source (1773–1902): [5]


  1. ^ "London Medical Societies in the Eighteenth Century". Proc. R. Soc. Med. (Royal Society of Medicine) 53: 699–706. September 1960. PMC 1871274. PMID 13724882. 
  2. ^ Postgrad Med J 2004;80:350-354 P. Hunting (2004) "History of Medicine: The Medical Society of London"
  3. ^ "The Medical Society of London and its library". doi:10.1046/j.1365-2532.1984.140213.x. 
  4. ^ "Transactions of the Medical Society of London". Retrieved 22 November 2014. 
  5. ^ "Transactions of the Medical Society of London". Retrieved 22 November 2014. 

External links[edit]