Dr John Burns FFPSG, JP (1815-1910)

John Burns

John Burns

by Colin Campbell

John Burns was born in Perth on 4th September 1815. Having lost both his parents he was sent to live with his grandfather, a farmer who lived near Methven.

Having tried several occupations, he came to Glasgow in 1838 and studied medicine at Anderson’s College and Portland Street Medical School. He joined the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow in 1846 and was elected a Fellow of the Faculty in 1851.

From 1846 he spent two years travelling in Europe, Egypt, and the Holy Land.

Returning to Glasgow, he took up practice in John Street in the Bridgeton district of Glasgow where he became a much respected and indeed loved figure. He dispensed his own prescriptions and had his own methods of treatment which included the use of a red-hot poker in the treatment of sciatica. He was also a great believer in proper diet (frequently recommending the use of buttermilk in cures) and abstinence from alcohol. In an unusual method of record keeping, he gave the patient a card with the patient’s own particulars and diagnosis on it and told to bring it with him when he next visited. A man of few words, he hated garrulousness in others and had little time for malingerers.

He held the post of Parish Medical Officer and Justice of the Peace (JP) for some years.

He died at home in Fitzroy Place, Glasgow on 24 March 1910 at the age of 94 having practiced until two years before his death. He and his wife, Christina Allan, who had predeceased him by 15 years had had no children.

(Ack: GU Archives; Glasgow Medical Journal 1910, text and image, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow)

Dr John Burns Monument

Dr John Burns Monument

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