The bronze medallion depicting Dr William Cullen was executed c.1863 by William Brodie, and it cost the College £15. The medallion, which is displayed in the Sibbald Library, is a copy of the bronze profile of Cullen which appears on the mausoleum which his descendents and the RCPE paid to erect over his grave during the mid-nineteenth century. The profile on the mausoleum was also executed by Brodie, and it is probable that this was the first ‘Bronze Medallion of Dr Cullen’, costing £21, which the receipt (below) refers to. Cullen’s grave is located in Kirknewton, Midlothain.

Receipt of payment from the RCPE to William Brodie for a bronze medallion of Dr William Cullen and two copies thereof, in addition to a granite pillar for the bust of Dr Alison.

William Cullen (1710 – 1790)

In 1740 Cullen received his MD at the University of Glasgow and by 1746 he was teaching at the university, with a particular interest in chemistry. In 1756 Cullen began working at the University of Edinburgh where he continued his successful academic career until 1789. Cullen was a significant figure in the Scottish Enlightenment and was committed to the study of science. He is probably best known for introducing the term ‘neurosis’ into the medical field, a term which, for him, incorporated problems ranging from melancholy and dementia to asthma and diabetes.

As a practising physician Cullen offered consultations to patients both face-to-face and by post. By 1773 Cullen was conducting between 150 and 200 postal consultations per annum. He corresponded with patients from the continent, Maderia and the United States, although the majority of his patients tended to come from within the British Isles. As well as retaining the letters from his patients Cullen also retained copies of his responses and this collection of letters is now in the College’s archive, providing a fascinating historical insight into the history of medical practice.