John Hunter

JOHN HUNTER: (1728-1793), anatomist and surgeon, born on 11 February 1728 at Long Calderwood, in the parish of East Kilbride, Lanarkshire; was the youngest of ten children. His father John Hunter (d. 1741, aged 78), was descended from an old Ayrshire family, Hunter of Hunterston, and was a man of intelligence, integrity, and anxious temperament. His mother Agnes Paul, daughter of the treasurer of the city of Glasgow, was an excellent and handsome woman. As a boy Hunter showed little taste for books, country sports, and being allowed to neglect school, never overcame the defects of his education. When about seventeen he went to stay in Glasgow with his sister, Mrs. Buchanan, whose husband a cabinet maker, was in difficulties. Hunter helped him for some time in his trade, and acquired much mechanical skill. In his twentieth year he visited his brother William (1718-1783) (q.v.) in London, with view to assisting in his dissecting room. He traveled on horseback in September 1748, and was set to work on a dissection of the arm-muscles. Succeeding beyond expectation, he was able to superintend schools in the second season. He was very popular with the “resurrection-men,” who were then essential to the anatomist, was fond of lively company and of the theatre, and was familiarly known as “Jack Hunter.” In the summer of 1749-50 his brother obtained permission for him to attend Chelsea Hospital under William Cheselden (q.v.). In 1751 he became a pupil of Pott at St. Bartholomew’s. In 1753 he was appointed one of the “masters of anatomy” of the Surgeons’ Corporation. In 1754 he entered as a surgeon’s pupil at St. George’s Hospital, where he was a house-surgeon for some months in 1756. There are numerous translations and American editions of Hunter’s works. Among contemporary criticisms of Hunter are: “An Essay on the Bite of a Mad Dog, with Observations on John Hunter’s Treatment of the Case of Master R-,” by Jesse Foot, the Elder, 1788; “Observations on the New Opinions of John Hunter, etc.,” by Jesse Foot the Elder; and John Thelwall’s “Essay towards a Definition of Animal Vitality,” in which the opinions of John Hunter are examined, 1793, 4to.




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