Notable Borthwicks

George Borthwick GEORGE BORTHWICK
? - c1716
George Borthwick was apprenticed to John King.

He was an 'examinator' for a time and he was one of those who examined Adam Drummond in 1707. At examinations both examiner and candidate were allowed 'a pynt of wine and no more'. The exam lasted five days. On the first, the candidate had to submit 'in write' a discourse on anatomy and surgery which had to be defended at oral examination. The second and third days were devoted to anatomy and the final two to surgery. On each day the examiner would deliver 'a discourse of his own upon some part of Chirurgerie or anatomy'. These speeches were subject to peer review and it was noted that the 'Calling''were satisfied with Borthwick's discourse on the lungs and thorax.

The Library was not formally established until 1699 when there were about 120 books available for consultation. In that year, an advertisement was placed in the Edinburgh Gazette:
'The chirurgian apothecaries of Edinburgh are erecting a library of physicall, anatomicall, chirurgicall, pharmaceutical and other curious books. Also they are making a collection of all natural and artificial curiosities. If any person have such to bestow let them give notice to Walter Porterfield, present treasurer to the Societie at his house in the head of the Canongate who will cause their names to honourably recorded and if they think not fit to bestow them gratis they shall have reasonable prices for them'.

Borthwick was the Librarian of the Incorporation from 1710 to 1712. He then fell on hard times for he was declared bankrupt in 1714 and all his goods (which included 'six dinner napkins full of holes') were auctioned. He sought Sanctuary in Holyrood Abbey and died 'abroad' not long after.

The Abbey provided sanctuary mainly for debtors until 1913 when the Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act was passed. The number of people involved was much reduced after 1880 when imprisonment for debt was in most cases abolished, The debtors who included all sorts of people - lords, lairds, the learned and the illiterate, were crowded into a small space in houses (now demolished) to the east of the Palace. There was a mass exodus at midnight on Saturdays because, from then until midnight on Sunday, they were free to go where they wished as no legal proceedings could be taken against anyone on a Sunday.
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries the Abbey sheltered between 7000 and 8000 people. read more . . .