The first volume in this series of obituaries was published in 1861. It was compiled by the Harveian Librarian, William Munk. He researched and complied entries for all fellows (voting members) and licentiates (non-voting members), from the RCP’s foundation in 1518to 1825. Subsequent Harveian Librarians have continued this work, commonly called Munk’s Roll in honour of its original compiler. Volumes from 1825 onwards only include past fellows due to rising numbers of fellows, licentiates and later, members.
The RCP now has a near-complete collection of obituaries for past fellows, from 1518 to the present (and licentiates from 1518 to 1825), making it an invaluable biographical resource for those interested in medical and social history, and family historians.
Eleven printed volumes were published covering 1518 to 2004. Entries for 2005 onwards are published online as Volume XII.
We are planning to publish all volumes online to increase access. So far, all entries from volume I (1518-1700) and volume XI (1998-2004) have been published online, as well as selected entries from the other nine printed volumes.
There is a searchable index to all entries, printed and online. If you would like to see an entry that is not currently published online, please contact us for a copy.
The majority of modern entries are written by colleagues, peers or family members. The RCP welcomes assistance in finding authors for entries. If you see a name which has only a minimal entry, please contact us if you think you can help
Messenger Monsey, 1693-1788
Monsey left Pembroke College, Cambridge in 1714 with a Bachelor of Arts degree and studied medicine in Norwich for several years, becoming an extra licentiate of the RCP in 1723. He was originally a country doctor and would have stayed that way. But the grandson of the Duke of Marlborough had an attack of apoplexy on his way to Newmarket and Monsey treated him so successfully that his new patron persuaded him to move to London and practice there.
He became the physician to Chelsea Hospital and had a host of famous patients with whom he had a reputation for plain speaking. Monsey never became a fellow but remained an extra licentiate (license for physicians practicing outside of London), with the respect of his patients and peers. He died, aged 93, leaving his body for dissection by the anatomist Mr Cruikshanks, as his surgeon, Mr Forster, was out of town during his last days.
If you are researching family history and your relative was a fellow, FRCP or physician, we are likely to have published a biographical entry for them. If your relative was an apothecary, GP, LMSSA, LRCP(since 1825), MRCP, MRCS or surgeon, we are unlikely to have an entry on them. (For more information on abbreviations, see the common abbreviation glossary below) But we may hold other resources, such as papers or correspondence in the archive collections.
Portrait of Messenger Monsey