Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Sir John Pringle

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PRINGLE, Sir John (1707-1782), a distinguished physician, was the younger son of Sir John Pringle of Stitchel, Roxburghshire, and was born on the 10th of April 1707. He was educated at home under a private tutor, and subsequently at St Andrews, at Edinburgh, and at Leyden, where he took the degree of doctor of physic. At the last-named university he was an intimate friend of Van Swieten and Haller. He at first settled in Edinburgh as a physician, but was soon after appointed assistant and successor to the professor of moral philosophy in the university. In 1742 he became physician to the earl of Stair, then commanding the British army in Flanders, and in 1745 was appointed by the duke of Cumberland physician-general to the forces in the Low Countries. In 1749, having settled in London, he was made physician in ordinary to the duke of Cumberland; and he afterwards received other court appointments as physician, and in 1766 a baronetcy. He read a series of papers to the Royal Society, which are to be found in the Transactions, and which gained for him the Copley gold medal. His first book was Observations on the Nature and Cure of Hospital and Jayl-Fevers (London, 1750). He married in 1752 a daughter of Dr Oliver, a physician in Bath; and in the same year he published his important work, Observations on the Diseases of the Army in Camp and Garrison, which went through many editions and was also translated into French, German, Italian, and Spanish. After having acted for many years as a member of the council of the Royal Society, he was in November 1772 elected president of that body. In this capacity he delivered and published, in connexion with the annual assignments of the Copley medal, six “discourses,” which were afterwards collected into a single volume (1783). In 1776 he published A Discourse on Improvements in preserving the Health of Mariners. After passing his seventieth year he resigned his presidency and removed to Edinburgh in 1780, but returned to London in September 1781, and died in January following. There is a monument to him in Westminster Abbey, executed by Nollekens.

A Life of Pringle by Kippis is prefixed to the volume containing the Six Discourses. The library of the College of Physicians of Edinburgh possesses ten folio volumes of his unedited MSS., including an essay “on air, climate, diet, and exercise.” There are Éloges on Pringle by Vicq d'Azyr and Condorcet.