Lectures on Morbid Anatomy by Monro Tertius

  • Reference
      GB 133 MMM/23/1/12
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      1 volume, 30 folios Unbound

Scope and Content

Notes from a course given by Alexander Monro tertius (1773-1859) on morbid anatomy. The plan of the course, which sums up the content and structure of the notes, is outlined by Monro as such, 'The structure of each part will be recapitulated; its physiology; and then its diseases - beginning with the bones; then the alimentary canal; then the assistant chylopoitlic viscera'. The notes extant in this manuscript however deal with the bones only.

There is no real attempt to divide the notes up into individual lectures, with the exception of one or two that are headed by a date, instead there are clear headings throughout showing the start and end of each topic. The subjects covered, in order, include: bones, cartilage, ossification, diseases of the bones, rickets, osteosarcoma, mollities ossium [osteomalacia], exostosis, ankylosis, effects of scrofula on ligaments, cartilages & bones, lumbar abscess, diseases of synovial apparatus, dropsy of the knee joint, diseases of cartilages, extraneous bodies in joints, constitution of bone, regeneration of bone, consequences of fracture, necrosis, structure of the spine, causes of distortion, the thorax, fractures of sternum, and the pelvis.

The manuscript is unbound and in three sections; the first having 14 folios and the second two having 8 folios each.

Administrative / Biographical History

Alexander Monro tertius was born in Edinburgh on 5 November 1773 the son of Alexander Monro secundus (1733-1817) and his wife Katherine Inglis, and the grandson of Alexander Monro primus (1697-1767). He studied medicine at Edinburgh University and received his MD in 1797. Within the year he became a licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and just 25 days later became a fellow. Professorships at this time were commonly handed down father to son and so Monro could shortly expect to take over from his father as Professor of Anatomy, a role previously held by his grandfather.

Firstly, not long after qualifying, he spent time in both London and Paris where he was able to continue his studies. When he returned to Edinburgh in 1800 he was appointed joint professor of medicine, anatomy and surgery alongside his father at the age of just 26. From 1808 onwards he delivered the whole course alone and on his father's death in 1817 became sole professor.

Monro was not popular amongst students, many of whom objected to his manner and there were many accusations against his lack of practical experience with nepotism being the only reason he held such a prestigious role. In 1815 he began offering classes in practical dissection in the face of ever growing competition from extra-mural teachers of anatomy. He was also criticised for the lack of attention he paid to surgery and subsequently a separate Chair of Surgery was established in 1831.

He published a number of works during his career and having remained popular in some circles was elected president of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh in 1825. Monro died on 10 March 1859 at his home in Craiglockhart near Edinburgh.


Lisa Rosner, 'Monro, Alexander, tertius (1773-1859)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Oxford University Press, 2004. Iain MacIntyre, 'Alexander Monro tertius (1773-1859)', The Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, 2013, 43(3), p.282.