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Hunters from Lanarkshire

map of Lanarkshire

On Jan 25, 2016

Lanarkshire had 3403 Hunters in 1881 making it the largest concentration out of the 33 Scottish counties.

Historically, Lanarkshire was the most populous county in Scotland. Up until 1402 it included Renfrewshire. It is to the west of Ayrshire.

a picture of Long Calderwood now
LONG CALDERWOOD (Home of the Hunters)

By Sir Arthur Porritt, K.C.M.G., C.B.E., F.R.C.S. President, Hunterian Society.

If one proceeds from Glasgow along that very pleasant road up Dychmont Hill (where on a good day views can be had not only of the City and the valley of the Clyde but also of the mountains of Arran, Ben Lomond and even the distant Edinburgh) at about the seventh mile post one arrives at East Kilbride in Lanarkshire. A mile from East Kilbride on the road to Blantyre lies a good stone house of two stories behind which is a fine spacious courtyard surrounded by farm buildings. This is the birthplace of the brothers William and John Hunter "Long Calderwood," still as it has been for generations the nucleus of a prosperous little farm.

The father of the famous brothers-also a John Hunter-farmed the property himself at the beginning of the 18th century and was laird of the nearby village. A gentleman farmer, he traced his ancestry back through centuries to the Hunterston family of West Kilbride in Ayrshire and it is of interest to note that in the arms of all the Hunters occur the three sporting dogs and three hunting horns which probably provide the answer to the family's original proclivities away back in the distant past of Norman times. In the early seventeen hundreds " Long Calderwood" was valued at " £180 per annum " and it was not surprising that the owner of such a valuable property should wed the daughter of the Treasurer of the City of Glasgow-a certain Miss Paul. They had ten children, but five of these died in infancy. Of the remaining five, three were boys and two girls. The eldest boy, James, born in 1715, became a lawyer; William, the seventh child, born in 1718, established himself as an anatomist in London, was responsible for bringing
his younger brother, John, to London and for his early scientific development and has his own niche of fame in the gallery of the medical giants of the past-this niche being now essentially centred in Glasgow's magnificent Hunterian Museum; and John, born when his father was about 70 years of age on February 13th, 1728 (according to the local parish Register), whose memory lives so actively in this Royal College of ours. Of the two sisters, the elder, Janet, married a certain Mr. Buchannana cabinet maker in Glasgow, and the younger, Dorothy, married the Rev. James Baillie, later Professor of Divinity at Glasgow University. The two children of this latter marriage are both historical names-the daughter referred to by Sir Walter Scott as " the immortal Joanna" and the son, Dr. Matthew Baillie, who later became Physician to the King.
composite showing three famous Hunters from Calderwood
The interest of " Long Calderwood" to us of the Royal College of Surgeons of England lies in the fact that it provided the background for the first sixteen or seventeen years of John Hunter's life, and these years of which unfortunately surprisingly little is known must inevitably have had a great formative effect on the future development of the genius of our " patron saint." It is well known that John had little scholastic inclination and apparently less ability. The plain fact remains that at the age of seventeen he could neither read nor write ! Perhaps his elderly father, who died when John was ten years old, and a rather doting mother had something to do with the lad's aversion to all things scholastic. But there is no doubt that that iron will, which later drove both its owner and those around him to prodigious feats in later years, got some of its original strength from his avoidance of attendance at school. This in no way implies that John's early years were spent in idleness.
historical photo of Long Calderwood
His own delightful words tell us of his boyhood interests and enthusiasms, " I wanted to know all about the clouds and the grasses and why the leaves changed colour in the autumn : I watched the ants, bees, birds, tadpoles and caddis-worms; I pestered people with questions about what nobody knew or cared anything about." That insatiable thirst for knowledge which never left him was a turgid force from his earliest boyhood days. A most delightful conception of this pe-riod of his life has recently been given by Professor Wood Jones in his address last September at the Opening Session of St. George's Hospital. This was entitled " John Hunter's Unwritten Book " and refers to that monumental collection we now call the Hunterian Museum. In it is pointed out how important to the future of John Hunter were those early years around the farm and in the countryside of " Long Calderwood."
John left his home at the age of seventeen to help his brother-in-law in Glasgow and here again three years in the meticulous craft of cabinet making without doubt did much to develop the talent that bore invaluable fruit in the preparation and mounting of his anatomical specimens. Only once in later life did John Hunter return to " Long Calderwood" -after the death of his mother in November, 1751 (just two hundred years ago) when he came to collect his sister Janet, then a widow, and take her back to London with him. All this is of particular interest to-day in that recently there has been formed a body known as " The East Kilbride Development Corporation," whose purpose is to establish a building estate in the neighbourhood. It is stimulating to hear, as I recently have from Professor J. D. Mackie of the Scottish History Department of the University of Glasgow, that this Corporation, under the able Chairmanship of Sir Patrick Dollan, has acquired the property of " Long Calderwood " (which was not originally in the development area) with the specific purpose of protecting it and maintaining it as a national memorial.
The Corporation is apparently very much alive to the historical importance of the property and aim to preserve it as far as possible in its existing condition-some of the rooms being exactly as they were in Hunter's day. The farm is still being actively worked and the present owner (Mr. Strang) is very proud of the Hunter connection. His interest and courtesy have only to be experienced to be appreciated-and it is to be hoped that as many Fellows and Members of the College as have the opportunity will do so. (For help in the compilation of these notes I should like to express my gratitude to Mr. R. Rudolph, Curator of the Hunterian Society Museum, and to Dr. Mather Cordiner, C.B.E., for the loan of " Two Great Scotsmen, William and John Hunter" written in 1893 by his godfather, Dr. George E. R. Mather, M.D., F.F.P.S. Glasgow).