Monro, John (DNB00)

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MONRO, JOHN (1715–1791), physician, eldest son of James Monro, M.D. [q. v.], was born at Greenwich 16 Nov. 1715. He was educated at Merchant Taylors' School, and passed in 1733 to St. John's College, Oxford, where he ultimately succeeded to a fellowship. He graduated B.A. 31 May 1737, M.A. 11 July 1740, and in April 1741 was elected Radcliffe travelling fellow, an appointment then tenable for ten years, and carrying with it the obligation of studying medicine on the continent. He studied first at Edinburgh, afterwards at Leyden, and took his degree as M.B. at Oxford, Dec. 1743. Subsequently he spent some years in travelling through France, Holland, Italy, and Germany, returning to England in 1751. He had the degree of M.D. conferred on him in his absence by diploma, 27 June 1747. In 1751 (24 July) he was appointed joint physician to Bethlehem Hospital with his father, whose health had begun to decline, and on his death, in the next year, John Monro became sole physician to the hospital.

He was admitted candidate of the College of Physicians 25 June 1752, fellow on the same date of the next year, was censor on several occasions, and delivered the Harveian oration in 1757. In 1787, in consideration of his failing health, his son Thomas was appointed his assistant at Bethlehem Hospital. He then gradually retired from practice, and died at Hadley, Barnet, 27 Dec. 1791.

Monro, like his father, devoted himself to the study and treatment of insanity, and is said to have attained eminence and success. He wrote nothing except 'Remarks on Dr. Battie's Treatise on Madness,' London, 1758, 8vo. Dr. Battie had alluded to certain physicians (meaning the physicians to Bethlehem Hospital) who kept their knowledge and methods of treatment to themselves, not communicating them to the profession by writing or teaching. This touched John Monro, as well as his father, and his answer was, in effect, that a knowledge of the subject could be obtained only by observation, and in retaliation he criticised very severely other parts of Dr. Battie's work. The appointment of physician to Bethlehem and a great reputation in the treatment of insanity were transmitted in the Monro family for several generations. Monro had acquired (probably on his travels) a taste for the fine arts, especially engravings, and assisted Strutt in the preparation of his 'History of Engravers.' He is also said to have communicated notes to Steevens for his edition of Shakespeare. A portrait of him is in the College of Physicians. His son Thomas (1759–1833) is separately noticed.

[Munk's Coll. of Phys.; Brit. Med. Journal, 1851, i. 1262.]

J. F. P.