The History of Leith

October 3, 2012

Dr. John Bell,

In 1790 a theatre for dissections and an anatomical
museum were erected in Surgeon Square
by Dr. John Bell, the eminent anatomist, who was
born in the city on the i2th May, 1763, and who
most successfully applied the science of anatomy
to practical surgery—a profession to which, curiously
enough, he had from his birth been devoted by
his father. The latter, about a month before the
child’s birth, had—when in his 59th year—undergone
with success apainful surgical operation, and his gratitude
led him to vow he would rear his son John to the
cause of medicine for the relief of mankind ; and
after leaving the High School the boy was duly
apprenticed to Mr. Alexander Wood, surgeon, and
soon distinguished himself in chemistry, midwifery,
and surgery, and then anatomy, which had been
somewhat overlooked by Munro.
In the third year after his anatomical theatre
had been opened in the now obscure little square,
he published his ” Anatomy of the Human Body,”
consisting^of a description of the action and play
of the bones, muscles, and joints. In 1797 appeared
the second volume, treating of the heart
and arteries. During a brilliant career, he devoted
himself with zeal to his profession, till in 1816 he
was thrown from his horse, receiving a shock from
which his constitution never recovered.

source-Old and New edinburgh

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