1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Pringle, Sir John

PRINGLE, SIR JOHN (1707-1782), British 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 St Andrews, at Edinburgh, and at Leiden. He took the degree of doctor of physic at the last-named university, where he was an intimate friend of G. van Swieten and A. von Haller. He settled in Edinburgh at first as a physician, but after 1734 also acted as 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 1744 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 in 1752 he married a daughter of William Oliver (1695-1764) of Bath, the inventor of “Bath Oliver” biscuits. Subsequently he received other court appointments as physician, and in 1766 was made a baronet. His first book, Observations on the Nature and Cause of Hospital and Jayl Fevers, was published in 1750, and in the same year he contributed to the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society three papers on “Experiments on Septic and Antiseptic Substances,” which gained him the Copley medal. Two years later he published his important work, Observations on the Diseases of the Army in Camp and Garrison, which entitles him to be regarded as the founder of modern military medicine. In November 1772 he was elected president of the Royal Society. In this capacity he delivered six “discourses,” which were afterwards collected into a single volume (1783). After passing his seventieth year he resigned his presidency and removed to Edinburgh in 1780, but returned to London in September 1781, and died on the 18th of January following. There is a monument to him in Westminister Abbey, executed by Nollekens.

A Life of Pringle by Andrew 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 him by Vicq d'Azyr and Condorcet.