(5 November 1773 – 10 March 1859)
College Role: 


Alexander Monro was born to Alexander Monro secundus in their home in Edinburgh on 5 November 1773. He attended the Royal High School and in 1790 entered the medical school at Edinburgh University. Some of his notes as a student survive today and are untidy and unmethodical, perhaps foreshadowing Monro’s inability to live up to his family name. He graduated MD in 1797 with a thesis titled ‘De dysphagia.’ Quickly upon his graduation, Monro became Licentiate and then Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh before travelling to London to continue his studies. Monro went to Paris in 1800 where he studied for a short time before returning home.

Back in Edinburgh, Monro was appointed conjoint professor of medicine, surgery and anatomy with his father. However, it quickly became apparent that Monro did not measure up to the standards set by his father and grandfather. From 1808, Monro delivered the whole course and upon his father’s death in 1817 was duly appointed sole professor. Monro published extensively, although his works were largely unpopular and display unclear reasoning. Like his father, Monro was a practicing physician, although his practice was never as prolific as his father’s.

Monro married in 1800 to Maria Agnes, daughter of Dr James Carmichael Smyth. Together they had twelve children. However, Maria Agnes died in 1833. Monro remarried in 1836 to Jessie Hunter although the marriage was childless. In 1846, Monro thought it would be expedient to retire from the Chair of Medicine and Anatomy, ending 126 year tenure of the chair by the Monro family. Monro died in his home on 10 March 1859, survived by his second wife. Monro was wildly unpopular in his lifetime and his reputation was never that of his father and grandfather.

Notable Achievements

Monro was president of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh from 1825 to 1827.

Key Publications

  • Observations on Crural Hernia (1803)
  • Morbid Anatomy of the Human Gullet, Stomach, and Intestines (1811)
  • Outlines of the Anatomy of the Human Body (1813)
  • Engravings of the Thoracic and Abdominal Viscera (1814)
  • Observations on the Different Kinds of Small-Pox (1818)
  • Morbid Anatomy of the Brain, volume 1
  • (1827)
  • Anatomy of the Pelvis of the Male (1827)
  • The Anatomy of the Brain (1831)
  • Essays and Heads of Lectures of A. Munro secundus, with Memoir (1840)
  • Anatomy of the Urinary Bladder and Perinaeum in the Male (1842)