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Christison, Sir Robert, 1797-1882 (1st Baronet | Scottish toxicologist and physician)



  • Existence: 1797 - 1882


Robert Christison was born in Edinburgh on 18 July 1797. He was educated at the Royal High School and then at Edinburgh University, graduating in 1819. He was a resident medical assistant in the Royal Infirmary, 1817 to 1820, and a brief period of study in London followed, at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, before he went to Paris to study analytical chemistry which laid the foundations for his future reputation as a toxicologist. On his return to Edinburgh in 1821, he became involved right away in the contest for the Chair of Medical Jurisprudence at Edinburgh University, and Christison was appointed to the Professorship in 1822. He then set about giving a scientific basis to medical jurisprudence, particularly toxicology.

In his capacity as medical adviser to the Crown in Scotland, from 1829 to 1866, he acted as medical witness in nearly every prominent case in Scotland, including the trial of Burke and Hare and the trial of Madeleine Smith. In 1827 he was appointed physician to the Infirmary, and then in 1832 he resigned his Chair of Medical Jurisprudence and was appointed to the Chair of Materia Medica and Therapeutics which he held until 1877.

In 1848, Christison was appointed Physician in Ordinary to the Queen in Scotland, and in 1871 he became a Baronet. He was elected twice as President of the Royal College of Physicians, 1839, and 1848, and was also President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 1868-1873. Professor Sir Robert Christison died on 23 January 1882.

Found in 6 Collections and/or Records:

Correspondence to Sir Archibald Geikie: Thomas Lauder Brunton to William Sweetland Dallas, 1857-1913

Identifier: Coll-74/11/10
Scope and Contents

The Correspondence to Sir Archibald Geikie: Thomas Lauder Brunton to William Sweetland Dallas sub-series consists of:

  1. 74 letters to Sir Archibald Geikie, alphabetically arranged (1857-1913)
Dates: 1857-1913

E.Or Ms 655: Prayers (Ṣalota ʿǝṭān, and other.), undated (c. 19th cent. C.E.)

Identifier: E.Or Ms 655
Scope and Contents

This is a collection of prayers, including prayers for King Tewodros (fols 14ra, 14vb, 17rb, etc.), presumably Tewodros II who reigned 1855–1868.

A former owner, Ḫayla Māryām, is named within the text (fols 21ra, etc.).

Dates: undated (c. 19th cent. C.E.)

Letter from Sir Robert Christison (1797-1882) to David Cousin of the City Chambers, Edinburgh

Identifier: Coll-1379
Scope and Contents The letter from Christison, 40 Moray Place [ Edinburgh], Monday 4 August [1862], to David Cousin of the City Chambers, refers to a 'long report' read by Dr. Bennett, on the Buildings Committee of the University. The report referred to how 'a careful survey' found the buildings were 'in a condition of great disrepair'. With regard to this, Christison had found, as 'Convenor of Finance', that he had 'a sum of £300' available in the general accounts, and explained that since Dr. Bennett and the...
Dates: 1862

Manuscript notes on medical lectures taken at the University of Edinburgh

Identifier: Coll-2119
Scope and Contents This fonds consists of 18 volumes of manuscript notes taken at medical lectures at the University of Edinburgh between 1873 and 1874. At the front of each volume the subject of the lecture and the name of the lecturer is provided.The subjects covered are: Pathology (Vols. I-IV); Materia Medica (Vols. I-II); Midwifery (Vols. I-IV); Surgery (Vols I, II, and V only); Clinical Surgery (Vols. I-II); Practice of Physic...
Dates: 1873-1874

Papers of Sir Robert Christison (1797-1882), 1822-1887

 Sub-Fonds — Multiple Containers
Identifier: Coll-1817/2
Scope and Contents This sub-fonds consists of the papers of Sir Robert Christison (1797-1882), toxicologist and physician, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (1838/40 and 1846/48) and President of the British Medical Association (1875). Manuscript notebooks for autobiography (4 notebooks) Notes of highland expeditions and holidays, etc. 1854-1881 (Skye with Dr Sharpey, 1854; Braemar...
Dates: 1822-1887
p. 103
p. 103

Papers of the Christison Family

Identifier: Coll-1817
Content Description This fonds contains the papers of: Professor Alexander Christison FRSE (1751-1820), Professor of Humanity at the University of Edinburgh from 1806 to his death in 1820, father of Sir Robert Christison. Sir Robert Christison, 1st Baronet, FRSE FRCSE FRCPE (1797-1882), toxicologist and physician, father of Sir Alexander Christison (1828-1918). John Christison (1789-1862),...
Dates: 1785-1904; 1979