William Cullen 1710-1790

From Book Owners Online

William CULLEN 1710-1790

Biographical Note

William Cullen was born outside of Glasgow in 1710 and studied at the University of Glasgow in 1726. He pursued a career in medicine, apprenticing with apothecaries in Glasgow and London, and served as surgeon on a ship bound for the West Indies. Following the death of his father and brother, he returned to Scotland, eventually earning his MD from University of Glasgow.

In 1741, he married Anna Johnstone (d. 1786) and took a post as a lecturer at University of Glasgow. In 1755, he was installed as chair in chemistry at the University of Edinburgh, alongside Andrew Plummer. He later was appointed as chair in the practice of medicine at Edinburgh, and continued to teach and run a successful private practice until shortly before his death in 1790.


A catalogue of Cullen's books from 1792 lists 3765 titles, mostly consisting of medical books from the 17th- and 18th-centuries. The collection also contains some 16th-century books and one incunabulum [lot 3206]. His books were sold at auction in Edinburgh.

Bookplate of William Cullen, M.D. [Franks 7526] as found in the Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh M 1.33

Notable selection:

Hippocratis' Opera (Aldine Press, Venice, 1526) [lot 1467]


Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh M 1.33

Characteristic Markings

Franks 7526: "Cullen, William, M.D."; bookpile pictorial


  • The Cullen Project
  • Catalogue of books, chiefly medical, being the library of the late William Cullen, M.D. Which are to be sold by public auction , in that large room over Messrs Braidwood and Bruce's shop. Edinburgh, on Monday 23d January 1792, and the other days within mentioned Catalogues, to be had at the shop of A. Guthrie, Edinburgh, of G. G. J. and J. Robinsons, London, and of all the principal booksellers in Britain. Edinburgh, 1792. ESTC N016030. [RCPE: SN 6.3]
  • Bynum, W. F. "Cullen, William (1710–1790), chemist and physician." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  • Gambier Howe, E. R. J. Franks bequest: catalogue of British and American book plates bequeathed to the ... British Museum. London, 1903-4.