Papers of Jonathan Troup (fl 1786 - 1798), physician, of Aberdeen, Scotland and Dominica, West Indies.

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 231 MS 2070; GB 231 MS 2900; GB 231 3027
  • Dates of Creation
      1788 - 1798
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      MS 2070: 1 volume (176 pages - originally more: some pages removed at beginning of volume; also some ripped pages).MS 2070: 1 volume (176 pages - originally more: some pages removed at beginning of volume; also some ripped pages).GB 231 MS 2900: 1 volume GB 231 MS 2900: 1 volume GB 231 MS 3027: 1 volume (c 450 pages - originally more: some pages removed at beginning of volume; also some ripped pages). Vellum boards.

Scope and Content

GB 231 MS 2070 Jonathan Troup: Journal, 5 Dec 1788 - c Apr 1790.

Diary of his voyage from Aberdeen to Dominica, West Indies, 1788-90, including descriptions of voyage from Aberdeen to Gravesend on board the smack, Swan and visit to London, before his departure on the Duchess of Portland, via Gravesend and Portsmouth.

Entries during the voyage, when Troup acted as ship's surgeon, contain notes regarding weather, ship's position, ships or places sighted, marine life, shipboard conditions and activities, illness on board, etc. After arrival in the West Indies in May 1789, entries give an account of his life and work up to April 1790, as a medical practitioner in Dominica and as acting surgeon to the army ordnance at Fort Shirley. There are also copies of letters, written in English and French, to officials and colleagues, and quotations from, or comments on, Greek and English authors.

The text is illustrated with crude ink and water-colour drawings of people and places encountered during his voyage and whilst practising medicine in Dominica.

GB 231 MS 2900 Cash book of Jonathan Troup, M.A., practising Physic and Surgery in the Prince Rupert Quarter, Dominica, January 1790.

Despite its title, just a small part of the volume is taken up with Troup's medical accounts - though these are detailed, and contain frequent references to cases attended for and on behalf of plantation owners in Dominica, including their families and slaves (e.g. By express to visit a Negro woman dangerously bruised, being tumbled down a steep hill by loose stones and trees ).

The remainder of the volume contains a variety of extracts and musings. Much of this is medical in nature, including transcripts of the lectures of William Cullen (1710 - 1790) at Edinburgh, 1787 - 1788; extracts from lectures and writings of Alexander Hamilton, MD (1739 - 1802), London, 1791 and Edinburgh, 1792; from William Fordyce, M.D. (1724 - 1792), London, 1773; and other practitioners - both contemporary and earlier. Other material includes abstracts of the bible in French; the aphorisms of Hippocrates; History of England from the first settlement of Brutus to this present year, 1793. With engravings by Charles Alfred Ashburton Esq; extracts of Latin poetry; and notes, quotations, etc. on various topics, including money, philosophy, religion, society, history, geography and literature.

The text includes one sketch of malformed baby and another of a geyser in Iceland.

GB 231 3027 Jonathan Troup: Journal, c 1791 - 1797.

Journal recording Troup's return voyage from Dominica, West Indies, to his native Aberdeen, and efforts to establish himself as a medical practitioner there. In addition to medical notes and remedies, the volume contains details of his early financial difficulties, ambitions, and social life, including courtship of several local girls (e.g. Travel to Migny, see J. Gaul, she is a stout, handsome girl, and she is industrious and good - travel to Auchnerran at foot of Morven, see Mayse McCaina, she is a pretty, pleasant girl - the cast is between the two Girls I mentioned, Gaul and McC - the one aged 16 the other 22½. ).

There are also notes of books read, philosophical musings, and quotations, particularly from Horace and other Latin writers.

The text is illustrated by 2 full page pencil sketches of the coast at Dover, other drawings in pen and ink, including sights passed on his return voyage to Scotland, and calligraphic exercises dated 1764.

Administrative / Biographical History

Jonathan Troup, son of Matthew Troup of Aberdeen, graduated MA from Marischal College, Aberdeen in 1786. He studied medicine at Aberdeen and Edinburgh before emigrating to the West Indies in 1788, where he practised medicine until his return to Great Britain in 1791. He continued to practise in Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen until at least January 1798.

For further details see Fasti Academiae Mariscallanae Aberdonensis: Selections from the Records of the Marischal College and University, 1593 - 1860: Volume 2: Officers, Graduates and Alumni, ed. by Peter John Anderson, (Aberdeen: Spalding Club, 1898), p 359; and William H. Cranna, The log of a ship's surgeon, Caledonian Medical Journal, 21 (1923), 81 - 88.


None observed.

Conditions Governing Access

Open, subject to signature accepting conditions of use at reader registration sheet

Acquisition Information

GB 231 MS 2070: Gifted to the University in 1943 by Lord Meston of Agra and Dunottar (1865 - 1943), then Chancellor of the University. Formerly in the possession of John MacDonald, 90 Queens Road Aberdeen, whose name and address appear on front and end paper.

GB 231 MS 2900: Gifted to the University in 1977 via J. and G. Collie, solicitors, Aberdeen, and Marcus K. Milne, antiquarian. Formerly in the possession of Lord Meston of Agra and Dunnottar (1865 - 1943).

GB 231 MS 3027: Purchased in 1980 with assistance from the National Fund for Acquisitions administered with Government funds by the National Museums of Scotland

Other Finding Aids

For GB 231 MS 2070, a descriptive list is available in the Reading Room, Special Libraries and Archives (e-mail:

Very brief collection level descriptions for each deposit available on Aberdeen University Library Catalogue, accessible online

Alternative Form Available

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Conditions Governing Use

Subject to the condition of the original, copies may be supplied for private research use only on receipt of a signed undertaking to comply with current copyright legislation.

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Head of Special Libraries and Archives (e-mail: and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. Where possible, assistance will be given in identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with normal procedures

Custodial History

See deposit details below.


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Related Material

GB 231 MS 2391: A list of books read by Jonathan Troup from 1791 to 1796, extracted from his MS diary [1791 - 1797], by William H. Cranna (1872 - 1931), 1923; with correspondence regarding Troup's diaries, and other articles concerning him.

GB 231 MS 2901: Lecture notes on Dr. James Beattie's (1735 - 1803) moral philosophy class, Marischal College, Aberdeen, 1796 - 1797, taken by Joseph Troup (MA Marischal College, 1797), son of Matthew Troup of Aberdeen.


For a short description of GB 231 MS 2070, in the context of other diaries and journals deposited in the University, see Colin McLaren, Reports and surveys of archives in northern Scotland, Northern Scotland, 1 (1) (1972), 122. See also Richard B. Sheridan, Doctors and Slaves: A Medical and Demographic History of Slavery in the British West Indies, 1680 - 1834 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), which contains a short account of Troup's medical practice on the island of Dominica and extracts from his journal (GB 231 MS 2070).

William H. Cranna printed extracts of Troup's papers in The log of a ship's surgeon, Caledonian Medical Journal, 21 (1923), 81 - 88; The lowe o'life, Aberdeen Book-lover, 4 (1923), 62 - 67; and The Folklore of Dee and Don, Scottish Notes and Queries, 3rd series, 1 (1923), 55 - 57.

Additional Information

This material is original.