Royal Medical Society

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Royal Medical Society
Formation1737, Royal Charter 1778
PurposeMedical student society, educational and social
  • University of Edinburgh

The Royal Medical Society (RMS) is a society run by students at the University of Edinburgh Medical School, Scotland. It claims to be the oldest medical society in the United Kingdom although this claim is also made by the earlier London-based Society of Apothecaries[1] (1617). The current President of the 284th session is third year medical student Mr Liam Parkinson.[2] The RMS is a professional society engaged in the advancement of medical knowledge and provision of assistance to medical students and professionals.

Royal Medical Society, Edinburgh. Wellcome M0010681.jpg


In 1737 it was established as 'the Medical Society' in 1737. It was granted a Royal Charter in 1778.[3] Earlier the Society was conceived in 1734 by a group of students who dissected the same body in the anatomy dissection room. They included Dr Cleghorn, Dr Cuming, Dr Russell, Dr Hamilton, Mr Archibald Taylor and Dr James Kennedy and perhaps Dr Fothergill. The source is a letter to Dr Fothergill from Dr Cuming in 1782[4]

The RMS sold its extensive library, built up throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, at 3 sales at Sotheby's in London in 1969. Much of the collection was purchased by the University of Wisconsin–Madison.[5][6]


Res Medica is the journal of the Royal Medical Society. It was first published in 1957 which means that it one of the longest-running student-led publications in Britain.[7]

The society today[edit]

The RMS owns rooms above Potterrow, the Edinburgh Students Union building, on Bristo Square. During the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the rooms are used as a performance venue for Pleasance promoters and host the Performers'/VIP bar (Brooke's Bar). The estate, is managed by the RMS Trust, which has charitable status.[8]

The day-to-day running of the Society is managed by the RMS Council – consisting of a Senior President, three Junior Presidents and 11 Conveners, each concerned with particular areas of the Society.[9]

Notable members[edit]

Detail of painting of Dr Sir Stuart Threipland, of Fingask (1716–1805); Bonnie Prince Charlie's physician during the Rising, and President of the Royal Medical Society (1766–1770).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Society Blog". The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries.
  2. ^ "284th Session – Royal Medical Society".
  3. ^ "About the RMS – Royal Medical Society".
  4. ^ Lettsom, JC. Work of J Fothergill. University of Edinburgh Library. p. 367.
  5. ^ "Historical Services – Royal Medical Society of Edinburgh – Ebling Library".
  6. ^ Crawford, Helen (October 1970). "The Royal Medical Society of Edinburgh: sale of its library at Sotheby's". Bull Med Libr Assoc. 58 (4): 531–47. PMC 197506. PMID 5496237.
  7. ^ Res Medica. WorldCat. OCLC 647254891.
  8. ^ "Charity Details: Royal Medical Society Trust, SC011518: Registered charity from 10 August 1896". Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR). Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  9. ^ "Council – Royal Medical Society".

Further reading[edit]

Gray, James; Guthrie, Douglas (1952). History of the Royal Medical Society, 1737-1937. Edinburgh University Press.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 55°56′42″N 3°11′22″W / 55.94500°N 3.18944°W / 55.94500; -3.18944