Lives of the fellows

Walter (Sir) Farquhar

b.c.1738 d.30 March 1819
MA Aberdeen MD(1796) FRCP Edin(1796) LRCP(1796)

Sir Walter Farquhar, Bart., M.D., was the son of a clergyman, and was born in the north of Scotland about the year 1738. He received his education chiefly in the university of Aberdeen, where he attended the general classes, and took the degree of master of arts. In 1757 he commenced the study of medicine at King’s college in that university, and continued there until the end of 1759, when he repaired to Edinburgh; and on the 5th January, 1760, was admitted a member of the Medical Society of that city. He was appointed surgeon to the nineteenth or lord Howe’s regiment, and in that capacity was present at the siege of Belleisle, after which he proceeded to Gibraltar, where the nineteenth were stationed for a lengthened period. Whilst the regiment was at Gibraltar he obtained leave of absence; and, availing himself of that opportunity to improve his professional knowledge, proceeded to France, where he remained for nearly a year and a half, visiting the hospitals in Paris, and in the more important provincial towns. He made a lengthened stay at Rouen, where he studied for several months under the celebrated anatomist and surgeon, Le Cat. On his return to Gibraltar his health gave way, when, resigning his appointment, he proceeded to England, and, taking up his abode in London, commenced practice as an apothecary. Even in this subordinate position his progress towards eminence was rapid—his great industry no less than his talents acquired him friends wherever he appeared, and he is said to have possessed, far beyond any of his contemporaries, the enviable power of converting his casual patients into fast friends. Superadded to his skill as a professional man, was an intuitive sagacity and knowledge of human nature—a gift which, in him, seems constantly to have been directed towards benevolent purposes. He was created doctor of medicine by the university of Aberdeen 29th January, 1796; was admitted a fellow of the College of Physicians of Edinburgh 3rd May, 1796; about the same time was created a baronet; and was admitted a Licentiate of the College of Physicians 30th September, 1796. Long before this he had limited himself to prescribing practice, and had for some time been the confidential professional adviser of Mr. Pitt and lord Melville. Now that he had taken due rank as a physician, the influence of these distinguished patients was brought to bear in his behalf upon the highest personages in the realm, and Sir Walter Farquhar was shortly afterwards appointed physician in ordinary to the prince of Wales. Thenceforward his practice was most extensive, and few of his contemporaries were in the receipt of larger professional incomes. About 1810 Sir Walter Farquhar began to suffer from a pulmonary complaint, which repeatedly compelled a temporary retirement from the active duties of his profession. In 1813 his health had so far deteriorated that he withdrew almost wholly from practice, and confined his exertions thenceforward to attendance on the prince Regent, and a few distinguished families with whom he was on terms of intimacy and friendship. He died 30th March, 1819, at the advanced age of eighty-one, and was buried in the church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. " Sir Walter Farquhar was distinguished by his consummate skill and ability in medical practice. He was, if possible, still more distinguished for those domestic virtues which marked through a long life, in an eminent degree, his valuable character. As a son he was a pattern of filial piety, a most affectionate brother, an exemplary and tender husband, a warm and steady friend, scarce to be equalled in his exertions of kindness, or to bring forward merit wherever he found it. He was the patron of the friendless; and distress, even accompanied by error, was never disregarded by him. More free from frailty himself than most men, he was charitable and lenient in his judgment of others; and, although always doing some good, declining the praise attached to it." (1) Sir Walter Farquhar’s portrait by H. Raeburn, was engraved by W. Sharp in 1797.

William Munk

[(1) Gentleman’s Magazine]

(Volume II, page 461)

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