Andrew Duncan was a remarkably prolific and philanthropic physician in eighteenth century Edinburgh. He founded the Edinburgh Public Dispensary, Scotland’s first free dispensary for the sick poor. He also established Scotland’s first mental hospital, the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, after years of campaigning and fundraising. Duncan also established Edinburgh’s professorship of medical jurisprudence – a subject which covered both public health and forensics and was the first post in the UK to cover these subjects.

This talk gives an overview of Andrew Duncan’s work and achievements.

This talk was originally delivered at the Medico-Chirurgical Society of Edinburgh. For more information about the Society please visit