William Hunter

William Hunter / Medical Pioneers

  • Name  : Hunter
  • Born  : 1718
  • Died  : 1783
  • Category  : Medical Pioneers
  • Finest Moment : First good textbook on gynaecology published

Any visitor to Glasgow with an afternoon to spare could happily spend it wandering around the Hunterian Museum at Glasgow University. This houses the extraordinarily versatile and varied collection of William Hunter, born at Long Calderwood, East Kilbride.

Women in particular have a reason to be grateful to William, as he was a pioneer in the anatomy and science of gynaecology. He originally studied at Glasgow University for five years, intending to go into the Church, but he moved to Edinburgh in 1737 switching to Medicine.

In 1741 he moved to London, concentrating on obstetrics, becoming Physician to Queen Charlotte in 1764. Seven years later he founded his own school of anatomy, and published the first textbook with a good illustration of the human uterus. If this appears to be unexciting, consider the surgery which must have gone on before this first accurate 'road map' appeared. From then on, surgical mistakes became less excusable and more women survived the surgeon's table.

His anatomical work continued after his death, his school of anatomy being bequeathed to his nephew Matthew Baillie who went on to further the science of pathology. Hunter also left his collection to Glasgow University, which includes not only scientific interest, but also art and antiquities.

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