Andrew Duncan (1744-1828) was a remarkable figure in a remarkable period of history - the Scottish Enlightenment. Born the son of a Fife shipmaster, Duncan rose to become Physician to the King and was twice President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. As a young doctor he attended the poet Robert Fergusson in his terminal illness. His views on medicine were very much ahead of their time. He saw the need for a Dispensary for the Sick Poor, and for a Lunatic Asylum in Edinburgh - where inmates were treated humanely. In the face of opposition, he founded a Chair of Medical Jurisprudence and Public Health in Edinburgh, the first in Britain. His name lives on in the Andrew Duncan Clinic, established in 1965. A man of wide interests, Duncan was a very sociable character with impressive organisational vigour who founded many societies, three of which still survive: the Aesculapian and Harveian Societies, and the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society.
John Chalmers is a retired orthopaedic surgeon. He is the author of 'Audubon in Edinburgh', published in 2003.