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Title

Professor James Jeffray (1759–1848)

Description

James Jeffray graduated MA in Sciences from the University of Glasgow in 1778, then going on to graduate MD from the University of Edinburgh in 1786. From 1790 he was Professor of Anatomy and Botany at the University of Glasgow. He held these posts until his death in 1848. This is one of the longest held professorships in Scotland's history.

Despite this, he is best remembered for his participation in an experimental dissection case in 1818. Assisted by Andrew Ure, a physician who was a member of the Faculty and Professor at Anderson University, Jeffray carried out a dissection on the body of executed murderer Matthew Clydesdale. Clydesdale had been found guilty of murder and was hanged for his crime. Under the Murder Act of 1751, academics could only perform dissections on the bodies of those executed as a result of being guilty of murder. Jeffray and Ure dissected Clydesdale's body, but also passed electric currents through the body to observe the workings of the nervous system. This experiment enabled parts of Clydesdale's body to be "reanimated". This experiment brings into question the ethics of anatomical experiments and consent.

Jeffray was President of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow from 1793 to 1795.

Creator

Smith, Colvin (British painter, 1795-1875)

Date

18th-19th century

Identifier

on loan from a private collection

Physical Object Item Type Metadata

Physical Dimensions

128 x 100 cm

Materials

oil on canvas

Professor James Jeffray (1759–1848)

Physical Object Item Type Metadata

Physical Dimensions

128 x 100 cm

Materials

oil on canvas

Files

Professor James Jeffray (1759–1848)

Collection

Citation

Smith, Colvin (British painter, 1795-1875), “Professor James Jeffray (1759–1848),” Heritage, accessed March 4, 2024, https://heritage.rcpsg.ac.uk/items/show/507.