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Definition: Pringle, Sir John from Chambers Biographical Dictionary


Scottish physician and reformer

Born in Roxburgh, he was educated at St Andrews University and at Leyden. He taught philosophy and practised medicine in Edinburgh, then moved to London and later became head of the Army Medical Service and physician to various members of the royal family, including King George III. His Observations on Diseases of the Army (1752) remains a classic of military hygiene, and established many principles for preventing typhus, dysentery and other common diseases of soldiers and others who live in crowded conditions.

Summary Article: Pringle, John
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

British founder of modern military medicine. In 1742 he became physician to the Earl of Stair, then in command of the British Army in Flanders. In 1744 he was appointed Physician General to the forces in the Low Countries. He accompanied the Duke of Cumberland's forces to Scotland and was present at the battle of Culloden. Pringle became physician to the Queen's Household in 1761, to the Queen in 1763, and to the King in 1774. His Observations on the Diseases of the Army (1752), laid down principles of military sanitation and ventilation of barracks and hospital ships. He did much to improve the conditions of soldiers and was an early supporter of the idea of the Red Cross. He later wrote Discourse upon some Late Improvements of the Means for Preserving the Health of Mariners (1776). His other major publication was Observations on the Nature and Cure of Hospital and Jayl-Fevers (1750).

Pringle was born in Stichill, Roxburghshire, Scotland, and was educated at St Andrews and Edinburgh universities. Aiming at a commercial career, he continued his studies in Amsterdam, Netherlands. During a visit to Leiden, Netherlands, he attended a lecture on medicine by Hermann Boerhaave and immediately determined to make medicine his career. He studied the subject at Leiden University, where he gained his MD in 1730, and in Paris, France. He worked initially as a physician in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was made a baronet in 1766. Pringle was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1745, and served as its president from 1772–78.

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