Lives of the fellows

John Johnstone

b.1768 d.28 December 1836
AB Oxon(1789) AM(1793) MB(1793) MD(1800) FRCP(1805)

John Johnstone, M.D., was the fourth son of James Johnstone, M.D., a distinguished physician of Worcester, who died in 1802. He was educated at Merton college, Oxford, and as a member of that house proceeded A.B. 10th October, 1789; A.M. 7th July, 1793; M.B. 9th July, 1793; and M.D. 10th July, 1800. He was admitted a Candidate of the College of Physicians 25th June, 1804, and a Fellow 25th June, 1805. He delivered the Harveian oration of 1819.

Dr. Johnstone commenced business at Worcester, and in 1793 was elected physician to the infirmary in that city, an office which he resigned in 1799, when he removed to Birmingham, where he practised with the most eminent success and reputation for a period of nearly forty years. He was appointed physician to the Birmingham General hospital in 1801, and performed the duties of that office with exemplary diligence for more than thirty years. He resigned his office at the hospital in 1833. Dr. Johnstone died at his residence, Monument-house, Birmingham, on the 28th December, 1836, aged sixty-eight.

"With deep professional learning, Dr. John-stone possessed an acuteness of intellect, an insight into character, a decision of mind, and a kindness of manner eminently valuable in every relation of life, but more peculiarly important in that of a physician. His skill was uniformly acknowledged by his fellow citizens, and indeed throughout the extensive district in which he practised. The elegance as well as the depth of his scholarship made him the delight as well as the ornament of society, and procured for him the friendship and esteem of many of the most learned and illustrious persons in the empire."(1)

But Dr. Johnstone’s great work, that by which his name will be transmitted to posterity, was his Life and Works of Samuel Parr, LL.D., which appeared in eight volumes octavo in 1828. For forty years he had possessed the friendship and was honoured with the familiar intercourse of that profound scholar, who resided at Hatton, a few miles from Birmingham.

Dr. Johnstone’s life of his revered friend is "written with great vigour and feeling; it is full of interesting literary anecdote and scholarlike research, and free from that slavish timidity which fears to acknowledge the failings of humanity in the subject of its panegyric. The life of Dr. Parr is a fearless, manly, and noble specimen of biography, putting to shame the meagre attempts of those puny scribblers who have sought to write themselves into ephemeral notice by the celebrity of the great name with which their own may be thus temporarily associated. Dr.Johnstone was not only, by his long intimacy, his liberal politics, and enlarged views, of all men the best qualified, to write the life of his illustrious friend, but by his own taste and learning was enabled to appreciate that of so eminent a man."(2)

Dr. Johnstone was the author of-
An Essay on Mineral Poisons, published in his father’s Medical Essays and Observations. 8vo. Evesham. 1795.
Medical Jurisprudence: On Madness, with Strictures on Hereditary Insanity, Lucid Intervals, and the Confinement of Maniacs. 8vo. Birm. 1800.
An Account of the Discovery of the Power of Mineral Acid Vapours to destroy Contagion. 8vo. 1803.
A Reply to Dr. James Carmichael Smyth containing Remarks on his Letter to Mr. Wilberforce, and a further Account of the discovery of the power of Mineral Acids in a state of Gas to destroy Contagion. 8vo. Lond. 1805.

William Munk

[(1) British and Foreign Medical Review, vol. iii, p. 586.
(2) Gent.Mag., May, 1837.]

(Volume III, page 22)

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