Dr Gilbert Skene

1522/3 - 1599

Gilbert Skene (or Skeyne) was born at Bandodle, Aberdeenshire, the fifth of ten sons of a notary and farmer. He attended Aberdeen Grammar School then King’s College, Aberdeen, and graduated MA then MD.

In 1556, he was appointed Professor of Medicine at King’s College, Aberdeen (1556-1575), the third person to hold this post, the first Chair of Medicine in the English speaking world. In 1568, he wrote Ane Breve Descriptioun of the Pest which gave details of the signs victims of the plague might show, means of prevention and methods of treatment. Breaking with medical tradition this was written in the Scots vernacular rather than Latin.

He married the widow of an Edinburgh burgess and moved to Edinburgh in 1575, where he practised successfully as a physician.  In 1580, he published Ane Brief Descriptioun of the Qualiteis and Effectis of the Well of the Woman Hill besyde Abirdene.  He was appointed physician to King James VI in 1581.  As royal physician he was paid 200 Scots pounds annually.  He retired in 1593 and died in 1599,

Biography prepared from the nomination made to the University of Aberdeen 525 Alumni project.