Royal College of Surgeons of England

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Royal College of Surgeons of England
The Royal College of Surgeons of England is an independent professional body and registered charity (212808) committed to promoting and advancing the highest standards of surgical care for patients, regulating surgery, including dentistry, in England and Wales. The College is located at Lincoln's Inn Fields in London.

The origins of the College go back to the fourteenth century with the foundation of the 'Guild of Surgeons Within the City of London' . There was dispute between the surgeons and barber surgeons until an agreement was signed between them in 1493, giving the fellowship of surgeons the power of incorporation This union was formalised further in 1540 by Henry VIII of England between the Worshipful Company of Barbers (incorporated 1462) and the Guild of Surgeons to form the Company of Barber-Surgeons. In 1745 the surgeons broke away from the barbers to form the Company of Surgeons. In 1800 the Company was granted a Royal Charter to become the Royal College of Surgeons in London. A further charter in 1843 granted it the present title of the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

The original 300 Fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons of England ( FRCS) include:
  • John Abernethy (1764–1831)
  • John Badley (1783–1870)
  • Robert Keate (1777–1857)
  • Richard Partridge (1805–1873)
The correct way to address a member or fellow of The Royal College of Surgeons is to use the title Mr, Miss, Mrs, or Ms (not Dr). This system (which applies only to surgeons, not physicians) has its origins in the 16th century, when surgeons were barber-surgeons and did not have a medical degree (or indeed any formal qualification), unlike physicians, who held a University medical degree. When the College of Surgeons received its royal charter, the Royal College of Physicians insisted that candidates must have a medical degree first. Therefore an aspiring surgeon had to study medicine first and received the title Doctor. Thereafter, having obtained the diploma of Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons he would revert to the title "Mr" as a snub to the RCP. The title {Mr} only applied to Fellows, not Members with the diploma MRCS. In fact members of the College (holding a MRCS) are referred to as Mr and the College addresses them as such. In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles, the distinction is made in the following conversation: "Come, come, we are not so far wrong after all," said Holmes. "And now, Dr. James Mortimer--" "Mister, sir, Mister--a humble M.R.C.S." Despite Mortimer's correction, he is referred to as "Dr. Mortimer" throughout the story. A biographical register of fellows is available on Plarr's Lives of the Fellows Online

The Company of Surgeons moved from Surgeon's Hall in Old Bailey to a site at 41 Lincoln's Inn Fields in 1797. Construction of the first College building, to a design by George Dance the Younger, and James Lewis, took from 1805 to 1813. Before long, a survey by Sir Kayrun Naher uncovered structural defects. In 1833 Sir Charles Barry won the public competition to design a replacement. The library and portico of this building are all that remain today after a German incendiary bomb hit the College in 1941.

Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons of England
In 1799 the government purchased the collection of John Hunter which they presented to the College. This formed the basis of the Hunterian Collection, which has since been supplemented by others including an Odontological Collection and the natural history collections of Richard Owen. The museum displays thousands of anatomical specimens, including the Evelyn tables and the skeleton of the "Irish giant" Charles Byrne, and many surgical instruments

  • Faculty of Dental Surgery
  • Faculty of General Dental Practice


Name Presidential term John Black 2008- Sir Bernard Ribeiro 2005-2008 Hugh Phillips 2004–2005 Professor Sir Peter Morris 2001-2004 Sir Barry Jackson 1998-2001 Sir Rodney Sweetnam 1995-1998 Professor Sir Norman Browse 1992-1995 Russell Brock, Baron Brock 1963-1966 Arthur Porritt, Baron Porritt 1960-1963 Archibald McIndoe 1958-1960 William Cheyne 1914-1916 Rickman Godlee 1911-1913 John Hulke 1893-1895 Jonathan Hutchinson 1889- ? William Savory 1885-1888 John Cooper Forster 1884 Thomas Spencer Wells 1883 Prescott Gardner Hewett 1876 James Paget 1875 Edward Cock 1869 Richard Quain 1868 John Hilton 1867 Richard Partridge 1866 Joseph Henry Green 1863 Caesar Hawkins 1861 William Lawrence 1855 Caesar Hawkins 1852 William Lawrence 1846 Astley Cooper 1836 Astley Cooper 1827 Cecil Wakeley unknown Hedley Atkins unknown