History of the Royal College of Physicians: volumes 1–4

History of the Royal College of Physicians: volumes 1–4


These four volumes, available to purchase individually or as a set, examine the history of the College from its inception in 1518 up to 1983.

Volume one, by Sir George Clark, was published in 1964, and looks at the healing arts in early Tudor England and the granting of the charter to the College of Physicians by Henry VIII, William Harvey, and the Great Fire of London through to the Revolution in 1688.

Volume two, also by Sir George Clark begins with the origin of the dispensaries (1675–96) and the disputes between the College and the apothecaries, the new problems created by the Industrial Revolution and the movement for medical reform, and ends with the Medical Act of 1858.

Volume three, by A M Cooke carries on from the Medical Act and looks at the years leading up to the creation of the National Health Service, two landmarks of great significance for medicine and the medical profession.

Volume four,  by Asa Briggs begins with the creation of the NHS in 1948 and looks at the way the RCP developed over the next 50 years, including the publication of the seminal report Smoking and health in 1962.


Volume one

  • The healing arts in early Tudor England.
  • First steps towards professional organisation.
  • The foundation of the College of Physicians of London.
  • The first phase, 1518–55.
  • The earliest statutes.
  • Dr Caius and resolute action.
  • The Elizabethan College, 1572–1602.
  • Surgeons, apothecaries and sceptics, 1572–1603.
  • The Statuta Vetera.
  • The early seventeenth century, 1603–25.
  • Jacobean plans, 1614–20.
  • The College holds its own, 1621–40.
  • Doubtful prospects, 1621–40.
  • Revolution and recovery, 1640–60.
  • Harvey.
  • From the Restoration to the fire of London, 1660–6.
  • From the fire to the popish plot, 1666–79.
  • From the popish plot to the Revolution settlement, 1679–89.

Volume two

  • The origin of the dispensary.
  • The dissentions in the College down to Rose's case, 1695–1704.
  • The dispensary.
  • The last contests with the apothecaries and surgeons. Midwifery, 1704–12.
  • The College ceases to coerce pretenders, 1704–35.
  • The College in the early eighteenth century.
  • The eighteenth century College and professional problems.
  • The Licentiates, 1752–91.
  • The healing arts during the industrial revolution.
  • The prelude to medical reform, 1794–1811.
  • Pall Mall East, 1825–30.
  • The College in a changing world, 1830–40
  • Medical politics, 1840–50.
  • The coming of the Medical Act, 1850–58.

Volume three

  • Internal reforms, 1858–61.
  • Renewed activity, 1862–75.
  • The conjoint examining board, 1859–84.
  • The membership examination and the special diplomas.
  • The close of the nineteenth century, 1876–99.
  • The College and London University I, 1879–91.
  • The College and London University II, 1891–1937.
  • The opening years of the twentieth century, 1900–13.
  • The National Health Insurance Act.
  • The First World War and after, 1914–30.
  • The Second World War and after, 1931–48.
  • The National Health Service I, 1918–45.
  • The National Health Service II, 1945–48.

Volume four

  • Introduction: new and old.
  • The context: the National Health Service I, 1946–68.
  • Five presidents.
  • Smoking.
  • A change of premises.
  • Electing: examining: training: educating.
  • Communicating: within and without.
  • Unfinished business: the National Health Service II, 1968–84.
  • Munk's Roll.
  • Essential values.

Membership discount available for this product

To apply for your discount please create an account using the same email address as your main RCP account or log in.

Related products


500 years of the Royal College of Physicians

£50.00 £25.00
'The 500th anniversary of the Royal College of Physicians is a huge source of pride for us as we ...

A garden of medicinal plants

Henry Oakeley, Jane Knowles, Michael de Swiet and Anthony Dayan A garden of medicinal plants de...

A rhyming alphabet of medicinal plants

By Dr Henry Oakeley The latest book from Dr Henry Oakeley, the Royal College of Physicians garden...

A tour of the medicinal garden

By Dr Henry Oakeley In 2004 the treasurer of the RCP, Sir Richard Thompson, proposed a new gard...
History of the Royal College of Physicians: volumes 1–4