John Munro (surgeon)

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John Munro (1670–1740), the third son of Sir Alexander Munro of Bearcrofts, was an important member of Edinburgh University.

After serving as an army surgeon, he settled in Edinburgh, and conceived the design of establishing a medical faculty at the University, along with George Drummond, Lord Provost. They realised that Leiden's medical students brought wealth to that town, and used this as a model for repairing that part of Edinburgh's fortunes which had been lost after the Union of 1707 when the aristocracy moved their social focus to London.[1]

John was educated in physic and surgery being apprenticed to William Borthwick, surgeon, and after 1689 to the famous Dr Christopher Irvine. He got part of his training at Leiden University, which he entered on 11 October 1692 On 7 March 1695 he was commissioned Surgeon General Sir Henry Belasyse's Regiment of Foot, the 6th Warwickshire Regiment. During that spring they were in camp between Bruges and Ghent and later in that year they took part in the siege of Namur under the personal command of King William III of Great Britain.

In 1700 John Munro left the army and settled in Edinburgh. He was admitted to the Incorporation of Surgeons of Edinburgh on 11 March 1703. The Town Council appointed him to take charge of their sick pensioners. In 1712 and 1713 John was elected Deacon of the Surgeons, and in the same years was chosen Deacon Convenor of the Trades with a seat on the Town Council, as a gentleman, well affected to Her Majesty's Person and Government. On the ascension of King George I of Great Britain he gave his allegiance to the House of Hanover.[2]

John educated his only son, Alexander Monro (primus), and secured his appointment in 1720 as the first Professor of Anatomy and Surgery. The plan was successful, and in the hundred and twenty-six years during which Alexander, his son, Alexander Monro (secundus) and grandson Alexander Monro (tertius) occupied the chair of anatomy, Edinburgh reached the first rank of medical schools.[1]

John Munro died at Carrolside in 1740. His portrait by William Aikman hangs in the Surgeons' Hall, Edinburgh. John's descendants would succeed as heads of the Munro of Auchinbowie family.


  1. ^ a b Lynch, Michael (2011). Oxford Companion to Scottish History. pp. 141 - 142. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-923482-0.
  2. ^ Inglis, John Alexander. (1911). The Monros of Auchinbowie and Cognate Families. Printed privately by T and A Constable in Edinurgh. Printers to His Majesty. 1911.