Alexander Crichton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the London silversmith, see Alexander Crichton (silversmith).
Alexander Crichton
Alexander Crichton.jpg
Alexander Crichton
Born 2 December 1763
Newington, Edinburgh
Died 4 June 1856
Nationality Scottish
Occupation doctor of medicine

Sir Alexander Crichton (2 December 1763 – 4 June 1856) was a Scottish physician and author.

Medical career[edit]

Born in Newington, Edinburgh, Crichton received his M.D. from Leyden, Holland, in 1785. He developed his medical skills through studies at Paris, Stuttgart, Vienna, and Halle. He returned to London in 1789, becoming MRCS but by 1791 he had moved from surgery, becoming a member of the Royal College of Physicians, and a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London in 1793, holding the post of physician at Westminster Hospital between 1794 and 1801.

In 1803 Crichton was invited to become the emperor of Russia's personal physician, and between 1804 and 1819 was appointed Physician in Ordinary (personal physician) to Tsar Alexander I of Russia and to Maria Feodorovna, the Dowager Empress. He was also head of medical services in that country, receiving several Russian and Prussian honours.

Geological studies[edit]

Retiring to England, Crichton wrote several books dealing with medical and geological subjects, becoming a member of the Royal Geographical Society in 1819. Crichton's extensive collection of minerals consisted mainly of specimens from Siberia, Russia, Norway, Hungary, Germany, the UK, the US and India. These were acquired during his tenure as physician to Alexander I of Russia and during his travels throughout Europe when he was studying medicine.[1]

ADHD pioneer[edit]

He was the second person to describe a condition similar to the inattentive subtype of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), in his book An inquiry into the nature and origin of mental derangement: comprehending a concise system of the physiology and pathology of the human mind and a history of the passions and their effects (1798).[2]

Slave Ownership[edit]

Crichton was one of several people across the country who benefited from the compensation scheme to slave owners after slave ownership was outlawed by the British government in 1833 under the Slavery Abolition Act. Crichton received £4184 0S 1D for 240 enslaved. He claimed as owner-in-fee of 1/6th of the enslaved on the Morant estate in St Thomas-in-the-East, Jamaica. The compensation money appears to have been paid to new trustees of his marriage settlement appointed at the time of compensation.

Marriage of Alexander Crichton, Doctor of Physick, to Frances Dodwell St George Hanover Square, 27/09/1800. Frances Dodwell (1772-1857) was the daughter of Edward Dodwell (1747-1828) and his wife née Frances Jennings (and sister of Edward Dodwell (1776/7-1832, in the ODNB as traveller and archaeologist). Other awards under this claim flowed from the will of Frances or Francis Jennings, so Crichton's wife was presumably an heiress of the Jamaican estate.The ODNB entry for Sir Alexander Crichton characterises his wife as 'heir to an Irish estate', and a strong Irish identity as well as Royal Naval and military linkages runs through the awardees under this claim.[3]


Crichton died at The Groves, near Sevenoaks, and was buried at West Norwood Cemetery, where his monument is a gabled granite slab.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wilson, Wendell E. (1 November 1994). "The History of Mineral Collecting: 1530–1799". The Mineralogical Record 25 (6): 81. Retrieved 2008-11-23. 
  2. ^ Berrios, G. E. (2006). "'Mind in general' by Sir Alexander Crichton". History of Psychiatry 17 (68 Pt 4): 469–86. doi:10.1177/0957154x06071679. PMID 17333675. 
  3. ^

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]