William Fordyce 1724-1792

From Book Owners Online

Sir William FORDYCE 1724-1792

Biographical Note

A physician, born in Aberdeen to George Fordyce and Elizabeth Brown. His brothers were the banker Alexander Fordyce, the divine James Fordyce and the professor of moral philosophy at Aberdeen David Fordyce. He was admitted a member of the Royal Medical Society in Edinburgh in 1744.

Fordyce served in three campaigns as surgeon to the guards in war with France, and probably travelled and studied in France after the peace in 1748. He was in Turin and London in 1750, and set up general practice in London. He was created MD at Cambridge by royal mandate in 1770, admitted licentiate of the College of Physicians in 1786, and was knighted and became fellow of the Royal Society in 1787. His popular published work increased his fame across Europe; he became one of the wealthiest physicians of his time, sent for from Naples and Switzerland. He was the lord rector of Marischal College, Aberdeen, and left his medical library to that college.


Fordyce left his medical library to Marischal College, Aberdeen, and founded the lectureship on agriculture there. The books still held at Aberdeen University can be found on the University of Aberdeen provenance database. They comprise 24 medical books in Latin, mostly 16th century, including De haemorrhoidibus, Hippocrates (Basel, 1540), and his own work, Dissertatio medica inauguralis, de catarrho, G. Fordyce (Edinburgh, 1758).

Characteristic Markings

His donation inscription reads "Ex dono Gul. Fordyce, Eq.". An example can be found in Compendium medicine Gilberti Anglici tam morborum universalium quam particularium nondum medicis sed & cyurgicis utilissimum., Anglicus Gilbertus (1510), reproduced on the University of Aberdeen website (see below).