Notable Borthwicks

William Borthwick WILLIAM BORTHWICK of Pilmuir
1641-1689
After he became a Freeman Surgeon William Borthwick studied at Padua in 1666 and then at Leyden, where at the age of 26 he matriculated in September 1667. His career spans the period between two of the major figures in the early history of the Incorporation - James Borthwick and John Monro.

William started his career as an apprentice to James Borthwick and about a quarter of a century later in 1687 John Monro was 'booked as servant in order to be prenticed' to him. Apprentices were often first taken on as servants in order to learn Latin or 'the four partis of gramar'. In other cases, they were taken on as servants because the master could officially taken on an apprentice only every three years. This was the first connection the Monro family had with surgery.

A year after William finished his apprenticeship with James Borthwick he married his master's eldest daughter, the first of his three marriages. Their daughter Margaret married John Campbell who was to become Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh on three occasions - in 1715, 1719 and 1723.

Borthwick was Deacon of the Incorporation from 1675 to 1677 and from 1681 to 1683. In 1677 he was appointed with Robert Sibbald, Andrew Balfour and Archibald Stevenson, (all of whom were to be made Fellows of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh when it was founded in 1681), to be 'visitors' of the 'phisicall gardin'. This garden for medicinal herbs was situated where Waverley Station is today and was looked after by James Sutherland, later Professor of Botany at the University.

An example of the civic duties of the Deacon can be found in the Burgh Records for 1676: 'The councill considereing that there is great confusione when anie fyre happin within this toun and the bodie of people runes togither in great disorder wherby everrie persone does hinder another each one pretending to give directiones for preventing of the said inconvenience and that there may be persones impowred who may give directions to the rest and to assigne everrie tradsman his distinct imployment at the fyre does therfore recomend to Deacon Hamiltoune' (a tailor) 'and Deacon Borthwick to speak with the deacones of trads to know what is fitting to be don for avoyding the said confusione in tyme coming'.

In June 1679 Borthwick was commissioned as "Chirurgeon Major of His Majesty's Forces in Scotland" and he was listed as surgeon to the 21st Regiment of Foot (Royal Scots Fusiliers) in 1682. He and John Baillie joined the army about the same time.
In addition to his property at Pilmuir, Borthwick owned a stone house in Edinburgh which had a dining room, "four bedchambers a dark closet and a kitchen". It cost him 6600 merks (£330 sterling). Most houses had been built of wood up to that time but the fire hazard was causing great concern. read more . . .