Back to Special Collections

Incorporation of Surgeons and Barbers of Edinburgh, 1505-

The Edinburgh barbers and surgeons united as an Incorporation in July 1505 when they were granted their Seal of Cause by the Town Council. Spanning over 500 years, the RCSEd Institutional Archive is rich in all aspects of the College’s illustrious history. We are very fortunate that so many of our records have been preserved over the last 5 centuries.  The 16th-18th century manuscripts in particular offer a fascinating insight to how medical practitioners in the late medieval and early modern period organised and evolved into medical 'professions' and became increasingly regulated. Our records also chart the development of medical education in Edinburgh as the city became the leading centre for medical teaching in the Atlantic world. A real highlight of this collection are the records that expose the increasingly fractured relationships between the surgeons (chirurgians), barbers, apothecaries, physicians and Edinburgh Town Council.

A large number of manuscripts in this section are in Old Scots, so a high level of detail has been added to many of the description fields. For a number of documents we hold full or partial transcriptions so do get in touch if you would like more information. In addition to images here, we will be working in an ongoing programme to upload more sections from the RCSEd institutional archive so please do keep checking back on our progress! 

Individuals are permitted to study, download or print images for private research or educational purposes only, and are not permitted to disseminate images online, such as social media. If you are interested in reproducing our images commercially (or in any other way) please use the contact us form for permissions. All permitted reproductions should be credited to the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.


 Archives in this section will include:

Special Collections