University of Virginia Historical Collections at the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library

Robley Dunglison Moves to the University of Maryland, Baltimore & Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia

Unlike fellow Englishmen Thomas H. Key and George LongRobley Dunglison seemed to enjoy his stay in Virginia. He and his wife had some difficulty adapting to the Virginia climate, but they found their new environment agreeable enough to add four children to their family while living at the University. Harriette Elizabeth was born in October 1825. In October of 1828, the Dunglisons lost their first son at eleven months to bronchitis. In December of the following year, John Robley was born, followed by William Leadam in July of 1832.

Portrait of Dunglison, 1865

Robley Dunglison, ca. 1865

Dunglison’s tenure at the University of Virginia came to an end in 1833 when he accepted a position as Chair of Materia Medica at the University of Maryland. James Madison, the Rector of the University after Thomas Jefferson’s death, accepted his resignation with the assurance that “the door would be kept open for his return” should he be disappointed with the new position in Baltimore. Three years later Dunglison accepted an offer from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia to be Chair of the Institutes of Medicine and Medical Jurisprudence. He spent the rest of his career at Jefferson Medical College (Bruce, 172).

After leaving Charlottesville for Baltimore, the Dunglisons added to their family Richard James (November 1834), then, in Philadelphia, Thomas Randolph (March 1837) and Emma Mary (January 1840). Their eldest daughter, Harriette, died at age sixteen in Philadelphia of endopericarditis. In 1853, Dunglison’s wife of 29 years, Harriette, died in Philadelphia at age 51. He died in 1869 in the same city, aged 71. Samuel D. Gross, an associate and friend at Jefferson Medical College, remembered Dunglison in his autobiography:

As a husband, father, brother, neighbor, friend, there never was a kinder or better man. In all the relations of life he was a model. As a profound medical scholar, ages will probably elapse before the profession will have another Dunglison. (Gross, 329-34)