James Spence (surgeon)

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James Spence (1812-1882) was a Scottish surgeon. [1]

He was the son of James Spence, a merchant of Edinburgh, by his third wife and was educated at a boarding-school in Galashiels and afterwards at the Royal High School, Edinburgh. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, but left to be apprenticed to Messrs. Scott & Orr, a firm of Edinburgh chemists. He managed, however, to complete his medical education in the extramural school of the university and in 1832 received the diploma of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. [1]

On qualifying he made two voyages to Calcutta in 1833 as surgeon to an East Indiaman, but returned to Edinburgh to teach anatomy for 7 years as the university demonstrator under Professor Alexander Monro tertius. He then joined the extramural school of anatomy to act as demonstrator where he took part in the lecture-room course of demonstrations on regional anatomy, as well as in the dissecting-room teaching. [1]

He left the dissecting-room in 1846 to give lectures on his favourite parts of surgery. In 1849, on becoming a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, he lectured systematically on surgery, first at High Schools Yards, adjoining the royal infirmary, and then at the school at Surgeons' Hall. He became assistant surgeon at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in 1850, full surgeon in 1854 and clinical lecturer in 1856. As professor of surgery, he was surgeon at the infirmary until his death. [1] In 1869 Byrom Bramwell served under Spence as his house surgeon at the Infirmary.[2]

In 1864, he was given the chair of systematic surgery at Edinburgh University.[3] In 1865 he was appointed surgeon in ordinary to the queen in Scotland and in 1867 was elected President of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh for 2 years. He published Lectures on Surgery in 1871.

He died in Edinburgh in 1882 and was buried in the Grange Cemetery, Edinburgh. He had married the daughter of Thomas Fair of Buenos Aires with whom he had six sons and three daughters.

The Tail of Spence is named after him.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Spence, James (DNB00)". Retrieved 6 November 2015. 
  2. ^ http://www.rcpe.ac.uk/sites/default/files/notablefellows.pdf
  3. ^ Risse, Guenter B. (1999). Mending bodies, saving souls: a history of hospitals. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. p. 377. ISBN 0-19-505523-3. 
  4. ^ Sebastian, Anton (1999). A dictionary of the history of medicine. Carnforth, Lancs: Parthenon. p. 677. ISBN 1-85070-021-4.