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K Jillings
Journal Issue: 
Volume 40: Issue 1: 2010




This  article  discusses  responses  to  disease  in  Aberdeen  during  a formative period in the provision of healthcare within the city.  The foundation of King’s  College  was  followed,  in  1497,  by  the  establishment  of  the  first  royally endowed university Chair of Medicine in the British Isles, and its first incumbent, James Cumming, was employed by the local government as the first city doctor in 1503. His appointment had been preceded in 1497 by another legislative innovation in Aberdeen,  when  its  council  became  the  first  civic  body  in  the  British  Isles  to implement regulations against the threat of the Great Pox (usually considered to be syphilis).  It had subsequently to pass measures to prevent the spread of plague to the city, and these were typical of those already imposed elsewhere in Scotland and  on  the  continent. Their  apparent  success  in  staving  off  plague  lasted  until 1514, when the city was struck by a severe outbreak which lasted two years.