H Dingwall, P Worling
Journal Issue: 
Volume 42: Issue 4: 2012



In December 1698 Sir John Clerk, second baronet of Penicuik, visited Cosimo III of Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, while on his Grand Tour of Europe – an essential part of the broader education of the gentleman at this time. The Duke presented him with a wooden medicine chest, in which the original medicines in their labelled containers are still to be found. The chest is Italian in origin, but many of the preparations it contains existed in various forms in European – including Scottish – formulations from that time. This paper outlines the context of the period, the state of medicine and pharmacy in Scotland, and examines the contents of the box. It is rare for such a complete chest to survive from this period in Scotland – most surviving examples date from at least the mid-eighteenth century. It offers a unique opportunity to investigate some of the medicines of the period.

Keywords Clerk of Penicuik, medicine chest, Scotland, Italy, pharmacy, Grand Tour

Declaration of Interests No conflicts of interest declared.