History of the RSM

The Society was established in 1805 as The Medical and Chirurgical Society of London, meeting in two rooms in barristers’ chambers at Gray’s Inn and then moving to Lincoln’s Inn Fields where it stayed for 25 years. In 1834 the Society moved to Berners Street and was granted a Royal Charter by King William IV.

In 1905, under the leadership of Sir John MacAlister, the Society moved to 20 Hanover Square where the centenary was celebrated. Two years later the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society of London came together with seventeen specialist medical societies and, with a supplementary Royal Charter granted by Edward VII, became the Royal Society of Medicine.

In 1910 the Society acquired the site on the corner of Wimpole Street and Henrietta Place, which was opened by King George V and Queen Mary in May 1912.

Famous Honorary Fellows

Honorary Fellows of the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society of London include:

  • Charles Darwin
  • Louis Pasteur
  • Edward Jenner
  • Sigmund Freud

Presidents of note

Former Presidents include five with diseases named after them:

  • Richard Bright (1837)
  • Thomas Addison (1849)
  • Joseph Hodgson (1851)
  • Sir James Paget (1875)
  • Frederick William Pavy (1900)

Further reading

See below for more about the history of the RSM.

  • Hunting, Penelope: The History of the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM Press 2002)
  • Moll, JMH: Presidents of the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM Press 1996)
  • Sakula, Alex: Royal Society of Medicine, Portraits, Paintings and Sculptures (RSM 1988)
  • Munford, WA: The Incomparable Mac. A biographical study of Sir John Young Walker MacAlister (1856-1925) (London, Library Association, 1983)
  • Davidson, Maurice: The Royal Society of Medicine (1805-1955) (RSM 1955)
  • Moore, Norman: The Presidents of the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society from 1805 to 1905 (Aberdeen University Press 1905)
  • Moore, Norman: The Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society of London Centenary 1805-1905 (Aberdeen University Press 1905)