Forensic Medicine

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Andrew Duncan (1744-1828) was the first in Britain to lecture in forensic medicine, beginning in 1789. In 1807, the University of Edinburgh was the first in the country to establish a Chair of Medical Jurisprudence. The full title was 'Regius Chair of Medical Jurisprudence and Medical Police'. Andrew Duncan (1773-1832), son of the previous, was the first to hold the post. He was succeeded by William Pultney Allison (1790-1859), who held the Chair 1820-1821.

On the appointment of Sir Robert Christison (1797-1882) in 1822, the Chair was moved from the Faculty of Law to the Faculty of Medicine. He was succeeded in 1832 by Thomas Stewart Traill (1781-1862). In turn he was succeeded, in 1862, by Sir Andrew Douglas Maclagan (1812-1900).

Henry Duncan Littlejohn was appointed to the then Chair of Forensic Medicine and Public Health in 1897. However the University established a separate Chair in Public Health the following year, that element was removed from Littlejohn's immediate remit and became the responsibility of Charles Hunter Stewart (1854-1924), the first Professor of Public Health. The Institute of Public Health was established 3 years later. In 1906, Henry Harvey Littlejohn (1862-1927) succeeded his father, holding the post until his death in 1927. In 1906 he also became Police Surgeon in Edinburgh.

The next incumbent was Sir Sydney Alfred Smith (1883-1969), who had previously been an assistant under Henry Harvey Littlejohn and also frequently acted as a medical expert in court. He succeeded in 1928 and held the post until 1953 when he was was succeeded by Douglas James Acworth Kerr (1894-1960). After Kerr's death, the Chair seems to have been vacant until the appointment of John Kenyon French Mason (1919-2017) in 1973. It then fell vacant again, following Mason's retiral in 1985, until Anthony Busuttil was appointed three years later.