Notable Borthwicks

James Borthwick JAMES BORTHWICK of Stow
In the troubled times of the 1640s a number of apothecaries went with the armies and acted as surgeons' mates. James Borthwick was an apothecary who had served abroad as a surgeon with Alexander Pennycuick who, in the Thirty Years War, had been surgeon to General Banner, Commander of the Swedish Forces. Pennycuick was later Chirurgeon General to the Auxiliary Scots Army in England during the Civil War (1644) and to the Scots troops with Prince Charles in 1650. He was also Deacon of the Incorporation of Surgeons from 1644 to 1646.

Despite his not having been an apprentice Borthwick was admitted to the Incorporation as a Master Surgeon in 1645. The timing is probably significant since Pennycuick was Deacon at the time. Ostensibly Borthwick was admitted for the special purpose of 'desecting of anatomie for the farder instruction of prentisses and servands' - the first time in the history of the College that a specific person had been nominated as a teacher of anatomy.

At the time of his admission the Incorporation was at a very low ebb. Due to 'the disease of certain maisters and the common visitatioune' (plague) there were only eight active masters in 1647 but Borthwick became a most distinguished member who helped to transform its fortunes. He and his colleague, Thomas Kincaid, joined the study of pharmacy to that of surgery and in 1657 the Surgeon-Apothecary came into being by an Act of the Town Council. Borthwick was Deacon from 1648 to 1651 and again from 1659 to 1661. His son, Francis, became a member of the Incorporation in 1675 and his son-in-law and erstwhile apprentice was William Borthwick.

A man of substance, Borthwick owned the estate of Stow and was Member of Parliament for Edinburgh in the Scottish Parliament for a number of years. He is buried in Greyfriars Churchyard. read more . . .