Notes of Lectures of James Hamilton

Scope and Content

Three volumes of notes from lectures of James Hamilton, the first created by George Freckleton and the second two from another unknown source.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Hamilton was born in Edinburgh in 1767 and was the son of the University of Edinburgh's fourth Professor of Midwifery, Alexander Hamilton, and his wife Katherine Reid. Hamilton began with a classical education and attended lectures at St Andrews University for five years in addition to classes in London, Leiden and Paris before being awarded his MD from St Andrews in 1792. He had already been made a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1788 and also became a member of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh in 1792.

At the age of 21 Hamilton joined his father in practice and in 1798 began to assist him in his duties as professor of midwifery before succeeding him in the post in 1800. In 1793 father and son together established the Edinburgh Lying-in Hospital at Park Place for the relief of the poor and to assist in the instruction of their students. Midwifery was not a compulsory subject for medical students at this time but Hamilton tried on numerous occasions to see it become an examinable subject. He tried unsuccessfully by appealing to the Senate in 1815 before bypassing them in 1824 and directing his requests straight to the town council. On this occasion he was much more successful and by 1830 matters had resolved in his favour.

Hamilton was no stranger to controversies such as this and was known for his pugnacious attitude and for coming into conflict with his fellow medical men. Nevertheless he was popular as a lecturer, had a reputation for caring for his patients, and published widely on issues relating to midwifery making significant contributions in the field. His major work published in 1836 was entitled Practical observations on various subjects related to midwifery. Hamilton died on 21 November 1839 and was succeeded as Professor of Midwifery by James Young Simpson.

Bibliography

G.T. Bettany, 'Hamilton, James, junior (1767-1839)', rev. Ornella Moscucci, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/12096, accessed 30 June 2016]. Derek Doyle, 'James Hamilton, the younger (1767-1839)', The Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, 2012, 42(2), p.188. J.H. Young, 'James Hamilton (1767-1839) Obstetrician and Controversialist', Medical History, 1963, 7(1), pp.62-73.