The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow was founded in 1599 by surgeon Peter Lowe, physician Robert Hamilton and apothecary William Spang. They set out to improve the standards of medicine and surgery in the West of Scotland through examination, licensing and education. The royal charter was granted by King James VI on 29th November 1599. Bringing together medicine, surgery and pharmacy was unheard of in 1599, and still gives the College its unique identity as the only multidisciplinary medical college in the UK.

The heritage collections of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow span over 6 centuries and include thousands of medical and surgical instruments, rare books, archives, and photographs. They are an excellent resource for exploring the history of medicine and the history of the city of Glasgow.

This talk will discuss the foundation of the College and reveal some of the stories from the heritage collections.


 Ross McGregor is the Deputy Head of Heritage at RCPSG.

Clare Harrison is the Library & Heritage Manager at RCPSG.

Kirsty Earley is the Digital Heritage and Engagement Officer at RCPSG.