Forensic medicine and medical ethics in nineteenth-century Britain

  • M. Anne Crowther
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 49)


Where did British medical students of the past century learn about medical ethics? Probably not from regular reading of Thomas Percival or any of the other essayists on the subject, though reprinted editions of Percival, some shorn of his “old fashioned” concerns, affirmed his continuing appeal [25]. This, however, may be exaggerated. Percival was probably more famous in his lifetime for his A Father’s Instruction to his Children, consisting of Tables, Fables and Reflections, Designed to Promote the Love of Virtue, etc. The work ran to ten editions between the 1770s and 1800. Medical Ethics; or a Code of Institutes and Precepts, adapted to the professional Conduct of Physicians and Surgeons, reached a third edition only in 1849, though it was also printed in two editions as part of Percival’s collected essays. It would not appear to have been available for British students to buy in the mid-nineteenth-century. As Burns has pointed out, “no British physician between 1803 and 1850 had written a monograph on medical ethics,” and the revival of interest in 1850 was largely due to American influences ([6], p. 304).


Medical Ethic Forensic Medicine Legal Duty Hydrostatic Test Morbid Anatomy 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Anne Crowther
    • 1
  1. 1.the Department of Economic and Social HistoryUniversity of GlasgowScotland

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