History of the Society

On the 14th December, 1789, the Aberdeen Medical Society was founded by a group of medical students, of which James McGrigor and James Robertson were the leaders. There had existed previously in Aberdeen two medical student societies, one in 1768, and the other in 1786 but both had withered and died, a fate which did not befall the 1789 foundation.

Over the years this Society gradually established itself and was strengthened by the addition of medical practitioners and honorary members. The name of the Society was changed to the 'Aberdeen Medico-Chirurgical Society' in 1811.

From the earliest days it had been the desire of members that the Society should have its own meeting place. A subscription list was opened in 1812 with the object of acquiring sufficient money to enable the Society to build a medical hall. The building in King Street was completed in 1820 to the plans of Archibald Simpson, the distinguished Aberdeen architect at a cost of more than £3,000.

The library of the Society instituted in 1791 grew rapidly and contained many rare and valuable books. In 1967 the major portion of the library's old and rare medical books was sold, and later the Hall in King Street was sold. The proceeds enabled the Society to build its new Hall on the Foresterhill site, to which the Society moved in 1973.

Over the years, the Society has played an important and influential role in the medical life of Aberdeen. It gave advice to the citizens through the Town Council on combating cholera and typhus; it instituted the training and certification of midwives in the city in 1827; it urged in 1867 the necessity of providing a fever hospital; it commented on medical education on many occasions. In 1920 the Society held a special meeting to discuss the question of hospital accommodation for Aberdeen and district. At this meeting Professor Matthew Hay outlined his scheme for co-ordinating the Aberdeen Hospitals and clinical University Departments on a common site. This resulted in the modern hospital and medical school complex at Foresterhill.