Cullen

The Consultation Letters of Dr William Cullen (1710-1790) at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

 

[Case ID:866]: Case of John Buchanan, 'Tide Surveyor at Kirkudbright', who is in danger of becoming consumptive from getting wet through the demands of his employment.

'The Case of John Buchanan Tide Surveyor at Kirkudbright' is of interest for the insight it gives into the hazards to health of a particular occupation; an excise official responsible for surveying the tides and inspecting wrecks. Buchanan was based at the Scottish port of Kirkubright on the Solway Estuary which was a notorious coast for smuggling. As his detailed account indicates, his work frequently involves being exposed in all weathers. His personal narrative, carefully set-out in the exceptionally neat handwriting of a government official, reveals how constant exposure to damp at work and while in temporary lodgings has left Buchanan, a family man who on his own estimate is aged 'about 35', with a serious chest complaint. We are reminded of the fate of Robert Burns, Scotland's national poet, whose already precarious health was further undermined when, just a decade after this letters was written, he became an excise officer based at nearby Dumfries. Having reassured Buchanan that his case is 'not yet consumptive' - by which he is implying "not necessarily fatal" - Cullen gives his standard advice in pulmonary cases: wear flannel next to the skin, get fresh air, take gentle exercise and if possible visit the Highlands to undertake a course of drinking goat whey to build up your strength.

David E. Shuttleton

Documents in this case

3 document(s) found in this case.

DOC IDSummaryDate
[DOC ID:1629] 
Letter from John Buchanan 'Tide Surveyor at Kirkudbright', concerning his own case. 17 February 1779
 
[DOC ID:4381] 
Reply, 'For Mr Buchanan of Kircudbright' 22 February 1779
 
[DOC ID:4447] 
Reply, for 'Mr Buchanan of Kircudbright'. 2 June 1779
 

People involved in this case

3 found.

PERS IDFull Name
[PERS ID: 2592] Dr
[PERS ID: 2591] Mr John Buchanan (at Kirkudbright)
[PERS ID: 1] Dr William Cullen (Professor Cullen)

Unique Places linked to this Case

4 found.

TypeSpecific Place Village/Town/City (aka) Region Country Continent Confidence
SpecificCullen's House / Mint Close Edinburgh Edinburgh and East Scotland Europe certain
Place Kirkcudbright Borders Scotland Europe inferred
Place Edinburgh Edinburgh and East Scotland Europe inferred
Place Highlands East Highlands Scotland Europe certain

Places and role of place

6 found.

TypeRoleSpecific Place Village/Town/City (aka) Region Country Continent Confidence
SpecificPlace of WritingCullen's House / Mint Close Edinburgh Edinburgh and East Scotland Europe certain
PlacePlace of Writing Kirkcudbright Borders Scotland Europe inferred
PlaceDestination of Letter Edinburgh Edinburgh and East Scotland Europe inferred
PlaceDestination of Letter Kirkcudbright Borders Scotland Europe inferred
PlaceTherapeutic Recommendation Highlands East Highlands Scotland Europe certain
PlaceMentioned / Other Kirkcudbright Borders Scotland Europe certain