• In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries support from important patrons was crucial for medical professionals and an important feature of the medical profession. Especially in Edinburgh, where the medical marketplace was intensely competitive and official posts were limited it was very important to have connections in order to become successful.
  • At the start of the nineteenth century, however, patronage began to be seen unfavourably as a symbol of past times. Medical biographies began to play down the role of patrons in the lives and careers of medical professionals. In place of patronage, public servicebegan to be emphasised as a demonstration of the moral character of the subject. Service to hospitals, medical institutions, the crown and the army were all celebrated as selfless, virtuous acts committed for the benefit of the public. Public service came to be seen as a reflection of a medical manís moral character. This transition from the strong and open role of patrons in a manís career to an emphasis on his humanitarian work can be seen in the representation of the medical practitioners in this collection.
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