Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Johnstone, John (1768-1836)

JOHNSTONE, JOHN (1768–1836), physician and biographer, sixth son of James Johnstone, M.D. [q. v.], and brother of Edward Johnstone [q. v.], was born probably in Kidderminster, where his father was temporarily practising, in 1768. He entered at Merton College, Oxford, in 1786, and graduated B.A. 1789, M.A. 1792, M.B. 1793, and M.D. 1800. He became a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London in 1805, and delivered the Harveian oration in 1819. He practised medicine in Worcester from 1793 to 1799, when he removed to Birmingham, where he gained a large practice. From 1801 to 1833 he was physician to the Birmingham General Hospital. He was president of the second meeting of the Provincial Medical and Surgical Association (afterwards the British Medical Association) in 1834. He died at Birmingham on 28 Dec. 1836, aged 68. He left two daughters, one of whom married Walter Farquhar Hook [q. v.]

Johnstone's medical skill and general learning were considerable, and his character was highly valued. He was the intimate friend of Dr. Samuel Parr [q. v.], and wrote his ‘Memoirs’ (1828)—a bulky book, in which he did not conceal Parr's defects—for the ponderous edition of Parr's works in eight volumes. Parr assisted him in his Harveian oration (1819) and in his ‘Reply to Mr. Carmichael Smyth’ (1805). Johnstone also published:

  1. ‘An Essay on Mineral Poisons,’ in ‘Medical Essays and Observations,’ by James Johnstone, senior (his father), Evesham, 1795, 8vo.
  2. ‘On Madness, with Strictures on Hereditary Insanity, Lucid Intervals, and the Confinement of Maniacs,’ Birmingham, 1800, 8vo.
  3. ‘An Account of the Discovery of the Power of Mineral Acid Vapours to Destroy Contagion,’ London, 1803, 8vo; see, in reference to this, Dr. James Carmichael Smyth's ‘Letter to William Wilberforce’ on Johnstone's pamphlet, London, 1805.
  4. ‘A Reply to Dr. James Carmichael Smyth, containing remarks on his “Letter to Mr. Wilberforce,”’ &c., London, 1805, 8vo.
  5. ‘Presidential Address at the Second Anniversary of the Provincial Medical and Surgical Association at Birmingham,’ 1834.
  6. ‘Address at the Birmingham School of Medicine on 6 Oct. 1834;’

both these are published with the Harveian oration.

[Memoir (by Bishop S. Butler of Lichfield) prefixed to Harveian oration, &c., London, privately printed, 1837; Gent. Mag. May 1837, new ser. vii. 547; Munk's Coll. of Phys. iii. 22, 23.]

G. T. B.