William Dick

1793 - 1866

William Dick
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

William Dick

Pioneer of veterinary education in Scotland and founder of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Science. Born in White Horse Close in Edinburgh's Canongate, the son of a blacksmith and farrier. Dick followed his father into the same trade, gaining an interest in the welfare of horses. With the intention of improving himself, he attended Dr. John Barclay's anatomy lectures in the University, greatly impressing Barclay with his knowledge and understanding. There being no veterinary school in Edinburgh, Dick went to London in 1817 to learn. He returned to Edinburgh and began giving lectures himself. With the assistance of the Highland Society of Scotland, Dick established a Veterinary School at his home in Clyde Street (near St. Andrew's Square, although now lost under Edinburgh Bus Station). He met most of the running costs of the school himself and it was not until 1844 that he received any help with the teaching. In the same year, he was appointed Veterinary Surgeon in Scotland to Queen Victoria.

He died in Clyde Street and left his school to the Town Council. During his lifetime he fully trained 800 vets, with many more attending his lectures. Dick's students went on the found veterinary schools in Glasgow and across the world. In 1916, the School transferred to Summerhall (at the east end of the Meadows) and became part of the University of Edinburgh in 1951. The school moved once again in 2011, to a new building at Easter Bush.

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