According to the College Minutes of November 1844 ‘Dr. Christison stated that being aware of the feelings of his professional Bretheren he had communicated with the relatives [of John Abercrombie], and with their permission had instructed Mr. Steele Sculptor to take a caste with the view of obtaining a bust of Dr. Abercrombie’. The minutes also noted that the College of Surgeons was keen to aid the commissioning of the bust, and a committee was appointed to oversee the acquisition. Consequently, this classicised marble bust was presented to the College by subscribers in 1846.

John Abercrombie (1780 - 1844)

Having studied at the University of Edinburgh and St George’s Hospital, London, Abercrombie commenced general practice in Edinburgh in 1804, having joined the College of Surgeons. Abercrombie became attached the Royal Public Dispensary and also took on pupils studying for medial degrees. He was particularly noted for the attention which he paid his patients, who he visited frequently. Indeed, during his career Abercrombie became the leading physician in Edinburgh, his private practice became extensive, and his consultation was sought throughout Scotland. Furthermore, he wrote extensively on the pathological aspects of disease and his best known works included Pathological and Practical Researches on the Diseases of the Brain and Spinal Cord (1828) and Diseases of the Stomach, Intestinal Canal, the Liver and the other Viscera of the Abdomen (1828). In 1824 he became a fellow of the RCPE and served as fiscal, censor and general member of the council at various times. In 1841 it was proposed that he ought to be made president of the College, however he declined as he had suffered from a serious illness earlier that year.