The Age of Science

John Hunter 1728-1793

John Hunter came to London in 1748 at the age of 20 and worked as an assistant in the anatomy school of his elder brother William.
Under William’s direction, John learnt human anatomy and showed great aptitude in the dissection and preparation of specimens.

 William also arranged for him to study under the eminent surgeons William Cheselden (1688-1752) and Percival Pott (1714-1788). 

While most of his contemporaries taught only human anatomy, Hunter's lectures stressed the relationship between structure and function in all kinds of living creatures.

Hunter believed that surgeons should understand how the body adapted to and compensated for damage due to injury, disease or environmental changes.

e encouraged students such as Edward Jenner and Astley Cooper to carry out experimental research and to apply the knowledge gained to the treatment of patients. 258

In 1790, John Hunter became Surgeon General to the Land Forces and first General of Hospitals. 
John Hunter was a brilliant surgeon and has been labelled the man who made surgery into a science.
Hunter developed amongst numerous things a forerunner of the ventilator we use today although crude using hand bellows.

Unfortunately, Hunter died after only three years in office whilst working at St Georges Hospital. 
He was however accorded the honour of having a statue erected in Leicester Square.

Field hospitals appeared until 1793, in Ireland during the Orange wars against James II. Although these were better than nothing at all, they were far behind the armies of Europe.


"Anatomists have ever been engaged in contention. And indeed, if a man has not such a degree of enthusiasm, and love of the art, as will make him impatient of unreasonable opposition and of encroachments upon his discoveries and his reputation, he will hardly become considerable in Anatomy or in any branch of natural knowledge."259




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The History of Surgery and Anaesthesia was created as a free resource to educate Students or indeed anyone wishing to understand the beginings of surgery and Anaesthesia.

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