William Hunter (anatomist)

From Academic Kids

William Hunter (23 May 1718-30 March 1783) was a Scottish anatomist and physician.

He was born in East Kilbride, the elder brother of John Hunter. After studying divinity at the University of Glasgow, he went into medicine in 1737, studying under William Cullen. He was trained in anatomy at St George's Hospital, London, and specialised in obstetrics.

In 1764, he became physician to Queen Charlotte. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1767 and Professor of Anatomy to the Royal Academy in 1768.

Missing image
page from "The anatomy of the human gravid uterus exhibited in figures"

To aid his teaching of dissection, in 1775 Hunter commissioned sculptor Agostino Carlini to make a cast of the flayed but muscular corpse of a recently executed criminal, a smuggler.

In 1770 he built himself a house fully equipped for the practice of his science, and this formed the nucleus the University of Glasgow's Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery.

He died in 1783, aged 64, and was buried at St. James, Piccadilly in London.

He used to relate the following anecdote:—During the American war, he was consulted by the daughter of a peer, who confessed herself pregnant, and requested his assistance; he advised her to retire for a time to the house of some confidential friend; she said that was impossible, as her father would not suffer her to be absent from him a single day. Some of the servants were, therefore, let into the secret, and the doctor made his arrangement with the treasurer of the Foundling Hospital for the reception of the child, for which he was to pay 190l.—The lady was desired to weigh well if she could bear pain without alarming the family by her cries; she said "Yes,"—and she kept her word. At the usual period she was delivered, not of one child only, but of twins. The doctor, bearing the two children, was conducted by a French servant through the kitchen, and left to ascend the area steps into the street. Luckily the lady's maid recollected that the door of the area might perhaps be locked; and she followed the doctor just in time to prevent his being detained at the gate. He deposited the children at the Foundling Hospital, and paid for each 100l. The father of the children was a colonel of the army, who went with his regiment to America, and died there. The mother afterwards married a person of her own rank[1] (


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