John Crichton, Surgeon

Image credit: University of Dundee, Tayside Medical History Museum Art Collection

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Born in Dundee, John Crichton was one of the original Attending Surgeons appointed to the Dundee Infirmary when it opened in 1798. He worked there until the new Royal Infirmary was opened in 1855. His marriage as a student to a member of the Baxter family, considered an act of extreme folly by his friends, endured happily for 61 years. He was a faithful member of the Glasite Church and never left his homeland. Crichton Street in the centre of Dundee was named after his family by way of compensation for losing their home (where Crichton was born) in order to make way for a new road linking the High Street to the river in 1783. Crichton was known as one of the most skilled surgeons of his day, in particular for his speciality of lithotomy to remove stones from the urinary tract. His mortality rate of less than 7% of over 200 of these operations was remarkable in the days before effective anaesthesia and antisepsis. Crichton put his success down to ‘the happiness of a mind that was never ruffled or disconcerted, and a hand that never trembled during any operation’.

University of Dundee, Tayside Medical History Museum


John Crichton, Surgeon




oil on canvas


H 250 x W 154 cm (E)

Accession number


Acquisition method

commissioned by Dundee Royal Infirmary; transferred to Tayside Medical History Museum, 1998

Work type



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University of Dundee, Tayside Medical History Museum

Ninewells Hospital & Medical School, Dundee DD2 1UB Scotland

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