Gilbert Blane

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Sir Gilbert Blane, Bt
Sir Gilbert Blane by Martin Archer Shee.jpg
Gilbert Blane by Martin Archer Shee, 1833
Born 29 August 1749
Blanefield, by Kirkoswald, Ayrshire, Scotland
Died 26 June 1834
London, England
Nationality Scottish
Fields medicine
Alma mater Edinburgh University
Glasgow University (MD 1778)
Known for Use of lemon juice obligatory to prevent scurvy
Influences Lord Rodney
William Cullen

Sir Gilbert Blane of Blanefield, 1st Baronet FRSE FRS MRCP (29 August 1749 – 26 June 1834) was a Scottish physician who instituted health reform in the Royal Navy.[1]


Born in Blanefield, by Kirkoswald, in Ayrshire, he was the son of Gilbert Blane of Blanefield (d.1771) and Agnes McFadzen.[2]

He studied medicine at Edinburgh University and Glasgow University (MD 1778)[1] before moving to London, where he served as private physician to Lord Rodney.

Blane was appointed Physician to the Fleet (1779–1783) and accompanied Rodney to the West Indies in 1779. Blane did much to improve the health of sailors by heeding their diet and enforcing due sanitary precautions. He was one of those whose advocacy of citrus juice as a preventative and cure for scurvy encouraged the Admiralty to go against the theories of the medical establishment and introduce lemon juice as daily addition to the naval diet in 1795.[3] Following his appointment as a Commissioners of Sick and Hurt the following year, he played a role in converting this policy into reality. Later lemons were replaced by limes which could be obtained from Britain's Caribbean colonies, and for this reason, "limey" became a common slang word for a British person.

He was a founder member of the Fellow of the Royal Society in November 1783 and delivered their Croonian lecture in 1788.[4] In 1784 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in London.

On his return to Britain, he became Physician to St Thomas' Hospital (1783–1795), Physician Extraordinary to the Prince of Wales (1785) and Physician in Ordinary to the King (George IV and William IV). By virtue of these court and hospital appointments, he built up a good practice for himself in London, and the government constantly consulted him on questions of public hygiene.[5] In 1812 he became a baronet, of Blanefield in the County of Ayr, in reward for services he rendered in connection with the return of the Walcheren expedition.

His printed works include Observations on the Diseases of Seamen (1795) and Elements of Medical Logic (1819).[5]

Blane lived at Burghfield in Berkshire and at Kirkoswald in Ayrshire.

He died at Sackville Street in the Piccadilly area of London on 26 June 1834.[2]


Blane married Elizabeth Gardiner in 1786. She died in 1832.[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Waterston, Charles D; Macmillan Shearer, A (July 2006). Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002: Biographical Index (PDF). I. Edinburgh: The Royal Society of Edinburgh. ISBN 978-0-902198-84-5. Retrieved 19 November 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2
  3. Vale and Edwards (2011). Physician to the Fleet: The Life and Times of Thonas Trotter 1760-1832. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press. ISBN 978 1 84383 604 9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Library and Archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 15 December 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). [ "Blane, Sir Gilbert" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Encyclopædia Britannica. 4 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Allison, R S (1990). "Chirurgeon: look to the wounded". Journal of the Royal Naval Medical Service. 76 (1): 15–23. PMID 2197404.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Beasley, A W (1985). "Sir Gilbert Blane Bt (1749–1834)". Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. 67 (5): 332–3. PMC 2499530. PMID 3901866.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Wharton, M (1984). "Sir Gilbert Blane Bt (1749–1834)". Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. 66 (5): 375–6. PMC 2493700. PMID 6385804.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Leach, R D (1980). "Sir Gilbert Blane, Bart, MD FRS (1749–1832)". Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. 62 (3): 232–9. PMC 2492378. PMID 6994573.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • King, L S (1978). "Medical logic". Journal of the history of medicine and allied sciences. 33 (3): 377–85. doi:10.1093/jhmas/XXXIII.3.377. PMID 361812.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Coulter, J L (1960). "The Gilbert BLANE medal". Journal of the Royal Naval Medical Service. 46: 183–91. PMID 13695943.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links