Lives of the fellows

Richard Huck Saunders

b.1720 d.24 July 1785
MD Aberd(1749) LRCP(1765) FRCP(1784)

Richard Huck Saunders, M.D., was born in Westmoreland in 1720; and had the misfortune to lose his father (Mr. Huck) when he was but a few months old. His education was directed by his maternal uncle, Mr. Harrison, who sent him to the grammar school of Croughland in Cumberland. There he received the rudiments of a classical education, and acquired a competent knowledge of Latin. He was then apprenticed for five years to Mr. Neal, a surgeon-apothecary, at Penrith, after which he proceeded to London, and entered himself at St. Thomas’s hospital as a pupil of Mr. John Girle. In 1745 he was appointed surgeon to lord Semple’s regiment, and continued in the service until the peace of 1748. He then settled at Penrith; and on the 13th October, 1749, received the degree of doctor of medicine from Marischal college, Aberdeen. In 1750 he was appointed surgeon to the 33rd Regiment, then at Minorca, whither he at once proceeded, and remained for three years. Returning in 1753, the regiment was quartered at Edinburgh, and there remained for two years, when Dr. Huck availed himself of the opportunity to attend the medical lectures in that university. He next went out to America under the earl of Loudoun, was by that nobleman promoted to the rank of physician to the army, and in this capacity served during the whole of the war, much to his own credit, and greatly to the benefit of the troops under his care. After the successful expedition against Havannah he returned to England, but with his health much impaired, and was in consequence advised to spend some time upon the continent. He made the tour of Germany, Italy, and France; when, returning to England with his health much improved, he settled in London, and commenced practice as a physician. He was admitted a Licentiate of the College of Physicians 1st April, 1765; was elected physician to the Middlesex hospital in September, 1766; and physician to St. Thomas’s hospital in 1768, when he resigned his office at the former institution. In 1777 Dr. Huck married the niece and heiress of Sir Charles Saunders. By this union he acquired a large fortune, both in land and money, and assumed the name and arms of Saunders. He now resigned his appointment at St. Thomas’s hospital, and introduced as his successor Dr. H. R. Reynolds, who had been induced, mainly on his recommendation, to leave Guildford and settle in London. In 1780 Mrs. Saunders, after a protracted illness, died; and the doctor, who for many previous winters had suffered severely from a chronic pulmonary complaint, now became much worse—his spirits drooped, and never recovered their former buoyancy. Although his practice was often interrupted by illness, he never relinquished it entirely. His reputation with the public and with the profession continued to increase; and on the 18th September, 1784, he was admitted, speciali gratiâ, a Fellow of the College. Dr. Huck Saunders died 24th July, 1785, esteemed and lamented by all who knew him.(1) He left two daughters: the elder of whom became viscountess Melville; the younger, countess of Westmoreland.(2)

William Munk

[(1) "Neque profecto fas erit incelebratum præterire Saundersium, limati simul judicii, beniguitatis singularis atque exirniæ:, qui, eo ipso, quo in societatem nostram ascriptus erat, anno è vita excessit: cui neque incorrupta fides, nec humanitas summa, moram indomitæ morti afferret." Oratio ex Harvæi instituto auctore Jac. Hervey.
(2) Duncan's Medical Commentaries, vol. x, p. 325]

(Volume II, page 346)

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