There are two plaster busts of Dr James Gregory on display in the Great Hall, both of which depict him in a classicised style.

The College received the first of these busts in 1823 and the council minutes of 30 January record that ‘ Mr. Fraser Tyler has offered, through Dr. John Playfair, to present to the College a bust of the late Dr. James Gregory.’ The bust had been received by February and the minutes record that it had been made by ‘Samuel Josephs, a well known sculptor of the time’. It is probable that this ‘Samuel Josephs’, was actually Samuel Joseph (1790/91-1850). Joseph is noted for often displaying a naturalistic and somewhat flamboyant style for his time, however his neo-classical depiction of Gregory remains largely restrained and formal in its execution and tone.

As well as the second bust of Gregory, Gregory's profile can be found amongst the roundel portraits in the frieze in the Great Hall.

James Gregory (1753 - 1821)

James Gregory followed his father, the Chair in the Practice of Physic at the University of Edinburgh, into the medical field. When his father died, Gregory still a medical student himself, completed the teaching of his father’s course of medical lectures for 1773. Whilst his father was replaced by William Cullen, Cullen’s former position of professor of the institutes of medicine was kept for Gregory until he could assume these duties. He took the degree of M.D. in 1774 and went on to study at London and on the continent until he returned to assume his position 1776, starting to deliver his clinical lectures in the Royal Infirmary the next year. Gregory also became a fellow of the RCPE in 1778 and was made president in 1798.

Beyond his abilities as a physician and teacher, Gregory was also noted for his involvement in a number of feuds with both individuals and institutions. In 1804 he published the Review of the Proceedings of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and, consequently, the RCPE charged him with violating his oath to the College as this stipulated that members were not to reveal the proceedings of the College to the public. Gregory refused to apologise and his fellowship was subsequently suspended by the College.

Nonetheless Gregory was popular with his students in Edinburgh, whilst physicians and patients throughout Europe sought his advice. He gained particular fame throughout the country for his so-called Gregory’s Powder or Gregory’s Mixture an antacid, stomachic and cathartic which was composed of powdered rhubarb, ginger and magnesium oxide. Overall, Gregory enjoyed a successful career and became first physician to the king in Scotland in 1799, a position which was renewed by George IV in 1820.