Papers of Professor John Gregory (1724-1773)

Scope and Content

The John Gregory material consists of: a volume on the practice of medicine delivered at Edinburgh, 1769-1770; lectures on the practice of medicine, 1772-1773; lectures on the institutions of medicine, 1773; lectures on physic, 1773; and, a letter to Nancy Ord, 1771.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Gregory was born in Aberdeen on 3 June 1724. He was the youngest son of James Gregory (d. 1731), Professor of Medicine at King's College, Aberdeen, and the grandson of the mathematician James Gregory (1638-1675). His early education was under care of his brother, James Gregory, who had succeeded his father at King's, and his cousin Thomas Reid, the metaphysician. In 1741 he began medical studies at Edinburgh University and on completion of these he studied at the University of Leiden, 1745-46. In 1746 he was appointed Professor of Philosophy at Aberdeen University where he lectured on mathematics, moral philosophy and natural philosophy. In 1749 Gregory resigned the Chair and devoted himself to medical practice, moving to London in 1754. While there he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and his success in London seemed assured. However, on the death of his brother, he returned to Aberdeen, succeeding to the Chair there, and lectured on and practiced medicine until 1764 when he moved to Edinburgh. In 1766 Gregory was appointed Professor of Medicine at Edinburgh University on the resignation of Professor John Rutherford (1695-1779). Also in 1766 he was appointed as Physician to the King in Scotland. His publications include A comparative view of the state and faculties of man with those of the animal world (1766) and Observations on the duties and offices of a physician, and on the method of prosecuting enquiries on philosophy (1770). Professor John Gregory died on 9 February 1773.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance. Some material fire-damaged and very fragile (access would probably be denied until conservation carried out).

Acquisition Information

Letter, purchased 1974, Accession no. E74.22.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Stephen, Leslie. and Lee, Sidney (eds.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol. 8. Glover-Harriott. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1908.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

The local Indexes show references to John Gregory related material in the Laing Collection (check the Indexes for more details): accounts of fees received, personal and family expenses 1769-1773, with additional accounts to 1789, at La.III.793; and, a letter mentioning Gregory's appointment as H.M. Physician in Scotland, 1766, at La.II.647/98. There is also an account of John Gregory in Benjamin Rush's journal, 1766-1768, at Mic.M.28, ff.71-73.

There are other references to material relating to the talented but complicated Gregory family (check the Indexes for more details). The Gregorys were descended from the Rev. John Gregory, Minister of Drumoak. The inventor David Gregory (1627-1720) and mathematician James Gregory (1638-1675), the Elder, were his sons. In turn, David's son was the astronomer and Professor of Mathematics David Gregory (1661-1708), and James' son was James Gregory (d. 1731), Professor of Medicine at King's College, Aberdeen. The son of the King's College Gregory was John Gregory (1724-1773), Professor of Medicine at Edinburgh University, and in turn his son was James Gregory (1753-1821) Professor of Medicine, Edinburgh University.

See the HE Archives Hub for descriptions of the Edinburgh University Library collections 'Papers of David Gregory (1661-1708)' and 'Lectures and Cases of Professor James Gregory (1753-1821)' and 'Papers of Professor James Gregory (1638-1675), the Elder'.

In addition, for John Gregory (1724-1773), the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes these other collections: lecture notes, 1766-1771, Royal College of Physicians, Ref. Gregory NRA 16015 Coll of Physicians; lecture notes, 1767-1768, University of Kansas, Clendening History of Medicine Library; lecture notes, 1770, University of British Columbia, Woodward Biomedical Library; lecture notes, McGill University, Osler Library; lecture notes, National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division, Ref. MSS 3537-41, and letters to Sir William Forbes, Ref Acc 4796 NRA 29136 Stuart-Forbes; lectures on the Institutes of Medicine, in the hand of Charles Cameron, circa 1770, Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine, Ref. MSS 6915-6916; letters to Sir Archibald Grant, 1759, National Archives of Scotland, Ref. GD345 NRA 10160 Grant, see NRA(S)0099; and, letters (30) to Elizabeth Montagu, Huntington Library.


Corporate Names