chapter  14
John Hunter (1728-1793)
Pages 2

John Hunter was born in Scotland in 1728. He grew up seven miles outside of Glasgow among ten siblings and came from modest upbringings. At school he was known to be an unsatisfactory pupil, both bad tempered and mischievous. How­ ever, he was also a curious boy who would ask questions about science and nature that more often than not none could answer. At the age of 20, with little direction in his life, Hunter decided to move to London and work for his older brother William. William Hunter was an anatomist and surgeon of considerable repute at the time. He spent time giving private instruction and practical demonstrations to various surgeons of London. As Williams assistant, John would spend his waking hours keeping affairs in order and procuring human cadavers for the demonstrations. As human dissection was illegal at the time, this often involved socializing with the “resurrection-men”. These men were responsible for obtaining the cadavers and other materials by whatever means necessary. John showed much aptitude in anatomy and dissection and was promoted to demonstrator within a year. Soon after, though having never received a formal education, Hunter became a surgical apprentice at St. Bartholomews Hospital. There he was taught by such surgeons as Cheselden and Percivall Pott. Three years later Hunter moved to St. Georges Hospital where he spent his next 25 years practicing as one of the leading surgeons of London.