MONRO, ALEXANDER, M.D., an eminent anatomist, the founder of the
medical school at Edinburgh, styled Primus, to distinguish him from his
son and successor, was descended, by his father, from the family of
Munro of Milntoun, in Ross-shire, and by his mother, from that of Forbes
of Culloden, though he himself was born in London, September 8, 1697.
His father John, youngest son of Sir Alexander Monro of Bearcrofts, who
was a colonel in the army of Charles II. at the battle of Worcester,
served for some years as a surgeon in the army of King William in
Flanders; and, on his retirement, settled at Edinburgh, where he soon
acquired an extensive practice. He gave his son Alexander the best
education which that city afforded, and then sent him to London, where
he attended the anatomical lectures of Cheselden. Young Monro afterwards
pursued his studies at Paris and Leyden, at the latter place under the
celebrated Boerhaave. On his return to Edinburgh in the autumn of 1719,
Messrs. Drummond and M’Gill, who were then conjunct nominal professors
and demonstrators of anatomy to the Company of Surgeons, resigned in his
favour. In 1720 by the advice of his father, he began to give public
lectures on anatomy; and at the same time Dr. Alston, then a young man,
also at the suggestion of the elder Monro, commenced delivering lectures
on the materia medica and botany. His father likewise communicated to
the physicians and surgeons of Edinburgh a plan for having the different
branches of physic and surgery regularly taught at Edinburgh; and by
their interest, professorships of anatomy and medicine were instituted
in the university. To complete the plan, subscriptions were set on foot
for the establishment of an hospital, and considerable sums raised,
chiefly by the exertions of Mr. George Drummond, lord provost, and Dr.
Alexander Monro, who wrote a pamphlet, strongly pointing out the
advantages of such an institution. The Royal Infirmary was in
consequence founded, Provost Drummond and Dr. Monro being appointed a
committee to superintend its building; and on its being opened, he
delivered clinical lectures there for the benefit of the students. Thus
was commenced at Edinburgh that regular course of instruction which
obtained for the medical school of that city the reputation of being the
best in the world.
Dr. Monro had been
elected, in 1721, the first professor of anatomy in the college of
Edinburgh, but he was not received into the university till 1725, when
he was inducted along with the celebrated mathematician, Mr. Colin
Maclaurin. In 1726, when he was inducted along with the celebrated
mathematician, Mr. Colin Maclaurin. In 1726 appeared his ‘Osteology, or
Treatise on the Anatomy of the Bones,’ which passed through eight
editions during his life, and was translated into various foreign
languages. In the later editions he added a concise description of the
Nerves, and of the Lacteal Sac and Thoracic Duct. A society having been
established at Edinburgh by the professors, and other practitioners of
the town, for the purpose of collecting and publishing papers on
professional subjects, Dr. Monro was appointed secretary, and under his
active superintendence, six volumes of ‘Medical Essays’ were published,
the first of which appeared in 1732. Of this collection many of the most
valuable papers were written by Dr. Monro, on anatomical, physiological,
and practical subjects. When the society was afterwards extended to the
admission of members eminent in literature, and philosophical as well as
medical papers were received, Dr. Monro became one of its
vice-presidents, and furnished several useful contributions to the two
volumes which were published of its Memoirs, entitled ‘Essays, Physical
and Literary.’ In 1759 he resigned the anatomical chair to his youngest
son, Dr. Alexander Monro, Secundus, but still continued his clinical
lectures at the Infirmary. He died July 10, 1767, at the advanced age of
70. by his wife Isabella, daughter of Sir Donald Macdonald of Sleat,
baronet, he had several children.
His works are:
Osteology; or a Treatise on the Anatomy of the Bones. To which are
added, A Treatise of the Nerves, an Account of the Reciprocal Motions of
the Heart, and a Description of the Human Lacteal Sac and Duct. Edin.
1726, 1732, 8vo. 6th edit. Corrected and enlarged. 1758, 8vo. Also,
1763, 8vo. And frequently since. To the latter editions of this Work he
added a concise Neurology, and a very accurate account of the Lacteal
System and Thoracic Duct. In German. Lips. 1761, 8vo. I French,
entitled, Traite d’Osteologie. Traduit de l’Anglois, anquel M. Sue a
ajoute des Planches avec leurs Explications. Avig. 1759. Paris, 1759, 2
vols. Folio. With splendid plates, by Cl. Sue.
Essay on Comparative
Anatomy, Lond. 1744, 8vo. A new edition, with considerable improvements
and additions, by his son, and other hands. Edin. 1783, 8vo.
and Physiological; wherein Dr. Hunter’s claim to some Discoveries is
examined. Illustrated with figures. Edin. 1758, 8vo.
Answer to Notes on the
Postscript to Observations Anatomical and Physiological. 1758, 8vo.
An Expostulatory Epistle
to Dr. William Hunter. Edin. 1762, 8vo.
An Account of the
Inoculation of Small Pox in Scotland. Edin. 1765, 8vo.
Essay on the Art of
Injecting the Vessels of Animals. Ed. Med. Ess. i. 94. 1731.
On the Articulation,
Muscles, and Luxation of the Lower Jaw. Ib. 124.
performing the Operation of the Paracentesis or Tapping of the Belly. Ib.
Of a Tympany. Ib. 294.
Essay on the Nutrition of
the Foetus. Ib. ii. 121. 1743. Sequel to the same. Ib. 203.
On the Nourishment of
Plants while in a Foetus state. Ib. 225.
from the same. Ib. 232.
On the Coats of the
Arteries, their Diseases, and particularly Aneurism. Ib. 264.
On the Aneurism
occasioned by Blood Letting. Ib. 279.
after an Ague. Ib. 22, 301. 1733.
On the Effects of the
Conissi Bark. Ib. iii. 32. 1734.
Remarks on Chalybeate
Waters. Ib. 47.
Essay on the Method of
Preparing and Preserving the Parts of Animal bodies for Anatomical use.
On the Diseases of the
Lachrymal Canals. Ib. 280. Account of a Procidentia Uteri. Ib. 305.
An uncommon Angina. Ib.
Asthma, with uncommon
Symptoms. Ib. 349.
Description and Uses of
the Intestinum Duodenum. Ib. iv. 65.
An Aneurism caused by a
Puncture in Bleeding. Ib. 299.
Of a White Swelling. Ib.
Of a Loose Cartilage in
the Joint of the Knee. Ib. 305.
History of an Ulcer of
the Leg. Ib. 313.
Remarks on the
Amputations of the Larger Extremities. Ib. 321.
Dropsy from Steatomatous
Omentum. Ib. 429.
On Peruvian Bark in
Gangrenous Ulcers and Small Pox. Ib. v. 98. 1736.
A Skull, uncommon for the
number and size of the Ossa Triquetra. Ib. v. 220, 1736.
Mechanism of the
Cartilage between the true Vertebrae. Ib. 224.
Remarks on the Spermatic
vessels and Scrotum, with its Contents. Ib. 249.
On Inguinal Hernia in
Men. Ib. 270.
Haematocele, Pneumatocele, Variocele, spermatocele, and Sarcocele. Ib.
An Essay on Caries of the
Bones. Ib. 339.
Histories of the Cure of
Lymphatics opened in Wounds. Ib. v. 395. 1736.
Artificial Passages for
Natural Liquors. Ib. 403.
On Collections of Bloody
Lymph in Cancerous Breasts. Ib. 410.
Description of several
Chirurgical Instruments. Ib. 454.
Histories of Successful
Indulgence of Bad Habits in Patients. Ib. 491.
Dissection of a
Cataractous Eye. Ib. v. 603.
The Ureters obstructed by
Small Stones. Ib. 665.
Four Cures of the
Tumified Ovarium. Ib. 770.
Proofs of the Contiguity
of the Lungs and the Pleura. Ess. Phys. And Lit. ii. 276. 1756.
Of a Child escaping at a
rent of the Womb into the Abdomen. Ib. 339.
Histories of Tophacious
concretions in the Alimentary Canal. Ib. 345.
Remarks on Prodicentiae
Ani, Intersusceptio, Inflammation, and Valvula of the Intestines. Ib.
Attempt to determine by
Experiments how far some of the most powerful Medicines, such as Opium,
Ardent spirits, &c. affect Animals by acting on the Nerves, to which
they are primarily applied. Ib. iii. 292.
A collected edition of
his works, including several Essays left in manuscript, was published by
his son, Dr. Alexander Monro, Secundus, at Edinburgh in 1781, with a
Life prefixed, by another of his sons, Dr. Donald Monro, the subject of
the following article.
MONRO, DONALD, M.D., Physician in London, an elder son of the
preceding, was born at Edinburgh in 1731. He obtained an extensive
practice in the metropolis, and became a fellow of the royal college of
physicians, and senior physician to the army. He died in July 1782, aged
71. His works are:
Thesis de Hydrope. Edin.
An Essay on the Dropsy,
and its different Species. Lond. 1755, 12mo. 1756, 1765, 8vo. Par. 1760,
An Account of the
Diseases which are most frequent in the British Military Hospitals in
Germany, from January, 1761, till the return of the Troops to England,
in March, 1763; to which is added, An Essay on the Means of Preserving
the Health of Soldiers, and conducting Military Hospitals. Lond. 1764,
Treatise on Mineral
Waters. Lond. 1770, 2 vols, 8vo.
Praelectiones Medicae ex
Cronii Institute, &c., et Oratio Harveii, &c. Lond. 1775, 8vo.
Observations on the Means
of Preserving the Health of Soldiers, and of Conducting Military
Hospitals; on the Diseases incident to Soldiers in the time of service;
and of the same Diseases, as they have appeared in London. Lond. 1780, 2
A Treatise on Medical and
Pharmaceutical Chemistry, and the Materia Medica; to which is added, An
English Translation of the Pharmacopeia of the Royal College of
Physicians in London, of 1788. Lond. 1788, 3 vols, 8vo. Appendix 1789,
8vo. To this a 4th volume was added in 1790, 8vo.
An Account of some
Neutral Salts, &c. Phil. Trans. Abr. Xii. 479. 1767.
On the good Effects of
the Quassia Root in some Fevers. Ib. 515, 1768.
Of a pure Native
Crystallized Natron, or Fossil Alkaline Salt, found in the Country of
Tripoli, in Barbary. Ib. xiii. 216, 1771.
On the Sulphureous
Mineral Waters of Castle-Leed and Fairburn, in Ross-shire, and of the
Salt Purging Water of Pitcaithly, in Perthshire, Scotland. Ib. 271,
Dissection of a Woman
with Child, and Remarks on Gravid Uteri. Plates. Ess. Phys. And Lit. i.
Cases of Aneurism; with
Remarks. Ib. iii. 178. 1771.
Account of the Lisbon
Diet Drink, in Venereal Cases. Ib. 402.
On the State of the
Intestines in Old Dysenteries. Ib. 516.
On the Use of Mercury in
Consumptive Disorders. Ib. 551.
Uncommon Cases, Violent
Scurvy, Venereal Disorders. Obstinate intermittent Fever. Tumour in the
Brain, Hydrocephalus. Ossifications in the Mysentery. Med. Trans. Ii.
Of the Method of making
the Otto of Roses, as it is prepared in the East Indies. Trans. Soc.
Edin. i. 12. 1796.
He also wrote the life of
his father, prefixed to the edition of his works of 1781, as above
MONRO, ALEXANDER, M.D., styled Secundus, also a distinguished
physician and professor, youngest son of Dr. Alexander Monro, Primus,
was born at Edinburgh March 21, 1733. He received the rudiments of his
education under Mr. Mundell, an eminent teacher of languages, and went
through the usual academical course at the university of his native
city. About the eighteenth year of his age, he entered on his medical
studies under his father, and soon became a useful assistant to him in
the dissecting room. In October 1755 he obtained the degree of M.D., on
which occasion he published and defended an inaugural dissertation, ‘De
Testibus et Semine in variis Animalibus.’ In July 1756 he was admitted
joint-professor of anatomy and surgery with his father; but previous to
entering upon the duties, with the view of further prosecuting his
studies, he visited both London and Paris, and afterwards attended for
some time the anatomical lectures of the celebrated Professor Meckell at
the university of Berlin. He returned to Edinburgh in the summer of
1758, when he was admitted a licentiate of the Royal College of
Physicians, of which he was afterwards president. He was soon chosen a
Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians; and on the resignation of Dr.
Monro, Primus, in 1759, he became full professor of anatomy. He also
succeeded his father as secretary of the Philosophical Society of
Edinburgh, in whose ‘Essays and Observations. Physical and Literary,’
appeared several able articles from his pen, on important subjects in
Having early adopted the
idea that the valvular lymphatics over the whole of the animal body were
one general system of absorbents, he published at Berlin, in 1758, a
short treatise, ‘De Venis Lymphaticis Valvulosis.’ This idea was
afterwards claimed by Dr. William Hunter of London, which led to a
controversy between these two distinguished physicians, and produced
from Dr. Monro his ‘Observations, Anatomical and Physiological, wherein
Dr. Hunter’s claim to some discoveries is examined,’ and his ‘Answer to
the Notes in the Postscript to Observations, Anatomical and
Physiological.’ In 1782 the Philosophical Society was incorporated by
royal charter, when it took the name of the royal Society of Edinburgh.
Dr. Monro was elected one of its first fellows, and enriched its
Transactions with various valuable contributions. In 1783 he published a
large folio volume ‘On the Structure and Functions of the Nervous
System,’ illustrated by numerous engravings, which was translated into
the German and other languages. In 1785 he produced another folio volume
‘On the Structure and Physiology of Fishes,’ illustrated with figures,
which also was honoured with various foreign translations. In 1788
appeared his ‘Description of all the Bursae Mucosae of the Human Body,’
which at once became a standard work. His last publication was a quarto
volume, consisting of three treatises, on the Brain, the Eye, and the
Ear, published at Edinburgh in 1797. His reputation, both as a lecturer
and author, extended throughout Europe, and he was elected a member of
the Royal Academies of Paris, Madrid, Berlin, Moscow, and other learned
IN 1798, increasing years
caused him to receive at his class the assistance of his son, Dr.
Alexander Monro, Tertius, then appointed conjunct professor of anatomy
with him. He continued, however, to deliver lectures till the session of
1808-9, when he finally retired from the anatomical chair. At the same
time he relinquished his practice, which was very extensive. He died
October 2, 1817, in his 85th year. – His works are:
De Testibus et Semine in Variis animalibus. Dis. Inaug. Edin. 1755, 8vo.
De Venis Lymphaticis
Valvulosis et de earum, imprimis origine. 1757. 1770, 8vo. Edin. 1773,
Harveiana in Theatro Coll. Reg. Medic. Lond. Habita die 18, Oct. 1757.
State of Facts concerning
the First Proposal of performing the Paracentesis of the Thorax, on
account of Air effused from the Lungs into the Cavities of the Pleuriae,
in answer to Mr. Hewson. Edin. 1770, 1772, 8vo and 12mo.
Observations on the
Structure and functions of the Nervous system. Illustrated with Tables.
Edin. 1783, fol.
The Structure and
Physiology of Fishes explained and compared with those of Men and other
Animals. Illustrated with Figures. Edin. 1785, fol.
A Description of all the
Bursae Mucosae of the Human Body, their Structure explained and compared
with that of the Capsular Ligaments of the Joints, and of these Sacs
which line the Cavities of the Thorax and Abdomen; with Remarks on the
Accidents and Diseases which affect these Sacs, and on the Operations
necessary for their Cure. With Plates. Edin. 1788, fol. In German.
Leipsic, 1800, fol.
Experiments on the
Nervous System with Opium and Metallic Substances; made chiefly with a
view of determining the Nature and Effects of Animal Electricity. Edin.
Observations on the
Muscles, and particularly on the Effects of their Oblique Fibres. Edin.
Also in Trans. Soc. Edin.
Three Treatises, on the
Brain, the Eye, and the Ear. Illustrated by Tables. Edin. 1797, 4to.
Description of the
Seminal Vessels, Ess. Phys. and Lit. i. 390, 1754.
Observations on Gravid
Uteri. Ib. 426.
Remarks on the
Intercostal Muscles. Ib. 447.
The Cure of a Fractured
Tendo Achilles. Ib. 450.
History of a Genuine
Valvulus of the Intestines. Ib. ii. 368.
Description of a Human
Male Monster; illustrated by Tables and Remarks. Trans. Soc. Edin. Iii.
Experiments relating to
the Animal Electricity. Ib. 231.
MONRO, ALEXANDER, M.D., Tertius, the successor of his father in
the anatomical chair, born Nov. 5, 1773, was educated at the High school
and university of Edinburgh. He studied medicine, anatomy, and surgery
in London, and subsequently repaired for a short time to Paris. In 1799
he took his degree of M.D. In 1803 the class of practical anatomy in the
university of Edinburgh was instituted by him, and in 1808 he succeeded
his father as professor of anatomy. His works are:
Observations on Crural Hernia. To which is prefixed, A General Account
of the other varieties of Hernia. Illustrated by engravings. Edin. 1803,
The Morbid Anatomy of the
Human gullet, Stomach, and Intestines. Plates. Edin. 1811, 8vo. New ed.
Outlines of the Anatomy
of the Human Body, in its Sound and Diseased State. Edin. 1813, 4 vols.
Observations on the
Thoracic Duct. 1814, 4to.
Observations on the
different kinds of Small-Pox, and especially on that which follows
Vaccination. Edin. 1818. 8vo.
Three Cases of
Hydrocephalus Chronicus; with some Remarks on that disease. Illustrated
with a plate. Annals of Med. Viii. 364. 1803.
The Elements of Anatomy,
A Treatise on the Nervous
The Morbid Anatomy of the
Brain. Edin. 1827, 8vo.
The Essays and Heads of
Dr. Munro, Secundus, 1840.
The Anatomy of the
In 1828 he was president of the Royal College of Physicians of Scotland.
He retired from his chair in 1847, with the title of Emeritus Professor
of Anatomy; and thus ended the connection between the college of
Edinburgh and the family of Monro, which had occupied professional
chairs within her walls for upwards of one hundred years.
He died at his seat of
Craiglockhart, near Edinburgh, March 10, 1859. At the time of his death
he was actively engaged in the execution of a work upon ‘Craniology and
Idiotcy.’ He was the father of the Royal Society of Scotland, and
contributed valuable and instructive papers both to that Society and the
Royal College of Physicians.
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