In the seventeenth century, Edinburgh physicians began to hold meetings in their own homes to discuss the regulation of medical practice and the ways in which standards in medicine could be improved.
Sir Robert Sibbald, an eminent physician and noted historian, was a member of this group. He had the opportunity to petition King Charles II, who granted the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh its Royal Charter in 1681.
Thus, Sir Robert is generally accepted to be the founder of the College. The founding Fellows of the College were concerned not only with the advancement of medicine as a reputable science, but also with alleviating the miseries of the City's poor and needy.
For more than 300 years, the College has remained independent of control by government, and its mission today lies close to the ideals of its founders
to promote the highest standards in internal medicine
not only in Edinburgh where it was founded and has developed, but wherever its Fellows, Collegiate members and Members practise.
The College acts in an advisory capacity to government and other organisations on many aspects of health and welfare and medical education. It was instrumental in founding the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh in 1729 and, over the years, has influenced the development of medical schools in North America, Australasia, Asia and Africa.
The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh now has over 10,000 Fellows and Members and maintains strong links with many overseas countries, where more than half of them live and practise medicine.