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Sir Andrew Balfour


1630 - 1694

Physician. Balfour was born at Denmylne (near Newburgh) in Fife, the youngest son of Sir Michael Balfour. He was educated at the Universities in St. Andrews, London and in France, where he received a medical degree in 1661, before returning to St. Andrews to practice and teach medicine (1667). By 1670, he had moved to Edinburgh, where he was able to introduce several novel techniques to the practice of medicine, including the introduction of dissection of the human body into Scotland. He also proposed the first publicly-funded hospital in the country. Balfour is perhaps best remembered for creating a 'physic garden' with Sir Robert Sibbald (1641 - 1722), which eventually became the Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh. This 'physic garden' was established near Holyrood Abbey in 1671 and provided plants for medicinal use as well as allowing botanical training for medical students. A much larger garden was established a few years later at Trinity College Church (now the site of Waverley Station), which was also a hospital. The garden was granted a Royal Charter in 1699. Balfour maintained related interests in natural history and botany. He was also a founding fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and became its third President in 1685.


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