Archibald Robertson (physician)

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Archibald Robertson
Born (1789-12-03)3 December 1789
Cockburnspath, Scotland
Died 19 October 1864(1864-10-19) (aged 74)
Clifton, Bristol, England
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Navy
Years of service 1808–1815
Rank Ship's Surgeon
Battles/wars Napoleonic Wars
War of 1812
Other work Physician and writer

Archibald Robertson FRS FRSE (3 December 1789 – 19 October 1864) was a Scottish physician and medical writer who had a short but notable naval career, followed by a long private practice.[1]


Robertson was born at Cockburnspath, near Dunbar, on 3 December 1789, and educated at Duns school, and afterwards by Mr. Strachan in Berwickshire. After prosecuting his medical studies in Edinburgh, he passed as assistant surgeon in 1808, and was appointed to Mill Prison hospital for French prisoners at Plymouth. In 1809 he was in Lord Gambier's flagship Caledonia in Basque roads, when Lord Dundonald tried to burn the French fleet. He then served in the Baltic, and afterwards in the West Indies, in the Persian and the Cydnus, besides boat service in the attempt on New Orleans. At the peace of 1815 with the United States he went on half-pay, having received a medal with two clasps.[1]

He graduated M.D. at Edinburgh in 1817, his thesis being on the dysentery of hot climates. He settled in 1818 at Northampton, where he obtained a lucrative practice. In 1820 he was elected physician to the Northampton infirmary. In 1853 he retired to Clifton. On 11 February. 1836 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society, and in the same year became a member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.[1]

He died at 11 West Mall, Clifton, on 19 October 1864, leaving one son, the Rev. George Samuel Robertson (1825–1874), M.A. of Exeter College, Oxford, the father of Archibald Robertson (1853–1931), bishop of Exeter.[1]


Robertson wrote:[1]

  • De Dysenteria regionum calidarum (1817)
  • Medical Topography of New Orleans, with an Account of the Principal Diseases that affected the Fleet and Army of the late unsuccessful Expedition against that City (1818)
  • Conversations on anatomy, physiology, and surgery (1827);[2] then 1832.[3]
  • A Lecture on Civilisation (1839)

He also contributed to John Forbes's Cyclopædia of Practical Medicine, 1833–5, 4 vols.


  1. ^ a b c d e  "Robertson, Archibald (1789-1864)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 
  2. ^ Robertson, Archibald. "Conversations on anatomy, physiology, and surgery". Oxford Libraries Online. Retrieved 31 July 2015. 
  3. ^ Robertson, Archibald (1832). Conversations on Anatomy, Physiology and Surgery (2nd ed.). Edinburgh: Maclachlan & Stewart. p. 456. 

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainBoase, George Clement (1896). "Robertson, Archibald (1789-1864)". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 48. London: Smith, Elder & Co.