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The Scottish Nation

CRUIKSHANK, a surname of the same class as Longshanks, Heavisides, Greathead, Longuesse, &c., indicative of some personal peculiarity in their original possessors, and not uncommon in that form in Scotland. In England it has been anglicised into that Crookshanks.

CRUIKSHANK, WILLIAM, an eminent surgeon and anatomist, the son of one of the examiners of the excise at Edinburgh, was born in that city in 1745. He was baptized William Cumberland, in compliment to the “butcher” conqueror at Culloden, but he showed his good sense by seldom using the name. In his fourteenth year he was entered as a student at the university of his native place, with the view of studying for the church. He was soon afterwards sent to the university of Glasgow, where a strong propensity for anatomy and medicine induced him to direct his studies to these branches of science. In 1771 he removed to London, having, on the recommendation of Dr. Pitcairn, been engaged as librarian to the celebrated Dr. William Hunter. On the retirement of Mr. Hewson, who had been for some time the doctor’s assistant at the anatomical theatre in Windmill Street, Mr. Cruikshank became his assistant, and subsequently his partner. At his death in 1783, Dr. Hunter left the use of his theatre and anatomical preparations to Mr. Cruikshank and his nephew, Dr. Baillie, and these gentlemen having received an address from the students requesting that they would assume the superintendence of the school, were induced to continue it. In 1794, a paper, written by Mr. Cruikshank, entitled ‘Experiments on the Nerves of Living Animals,’ was inserted in the Transactions of the Royal Society; as was also, two years afterwards, another paper on his on the ‘Appearances in the Ovaria of Rabbits in different stages of Pregnancy.’ His publications, of which a list follows, prove him to have been an excellent anatomist, and an acute and ingenious physiologist. In 1797 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. He enjoyed an excellent practice, particularly as an accoucheur, and though not without some share of personal as well as intellectual vanity, was much esteemed for his benevolence. Mr. Cruikshank died at London, July 27, 1800. His works are:

      Remarks upon the Absorption of Calomel from the Internal Surface of the Mouth; in a Letter to Mr. Clare. London, 1779, 8vo.

      Experiments on the Insensible Respiration of the Human Body, showing its affinity to Perspiration. Lond 1779, 8vo. New edit. with additions and corrections. Lond. 1795, 8vo.

      The Anatomy of the Absorbent Vessels of the Human Body. Lond. 1786, 4to. This valuable and interesting publication, his principal work, a second edition of which, with several new discoveries by the author, was published in 1790, was soon translated into the German, French, and other languages, and became a standard book in every anatomical library.

      The Result of the Trial of various Acids and some other Substances in the Treatment of Lues Venerea. Lond. 1797, 8vo. also subjoined to Dr. Rotto’s Work on Diabetes. 1797.

      Experiments on the Nerves and Spinal Marrow of Living Animals.. Phil. Trans. Abr. xvii. 512. 1793.

      Observations on the Ova of Animals after Impregnation. Ib. xviii. 129. 1797.

      Experiments and Observations on the Nature of Sugar. Nic. Jour. i. 337. 1797. Continuation of the same. Ib. ii. 406. 1799.

      Some Observations on the different Hydrocarbonates and Combinations of Carbon with Oxygen, &c. Ib. v. 1. 1802.

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