CodeDS/UK/106
Person NameTuke; John Batty; Sir
Dates1835-1913
TitleSir
HistoryTuke graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1856. In 1860 he left for New Zealand where he served as a surgeon and senior medical officer for colonial troops during the Maori War until 1863.

Tuke then decided to specialise in mental diseases and their causes and therefore served an assistantship at the Royal Edinburgh Asylum. Following this he became superintendent of the Fife and Kinross Asylum. He later left this post after being offered a position in Saughton Hall Asylum, a private mental hospital, in Edinburgh. Tuke is particularly important in the history of British psychiatry because of the of the open-doors system of care which he introduced in the 1860s, which provided patients with more care and freedom.

Tuke became a fellow of the RCPE in 1871, and in 1874 and 1894 he also became the Royal College of Physician’s Morison Lecturer. As well as this Tuke played a key role in the foundation of the Research Laboratory of the Royal College of Physicians and represented the RCPE on the General Medical Council (1887 – 1912). Moreover he served as president of the college for three years (19=895 – 1898), his presidency being extended beyond the normal two year term due to the respect he had won in the college.

Beyond the RCPE he also served as a manager of the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary for 10 years and as a member of parliament, representing the dual constituency of Edinburgh and St Andrews from 1900 – 1910. His obituary in the British Medical Journal also noted that ‘he made a number of important contributions to the study of insanity’ publishing on topics which included pregnancy, puerperal insanity and insanity of lactation. He theorised that mental illness was caused by physical problems and was not, as many of his contemporaries believed, caused by moral deficiencies.

His obituary concluded that ‘there will be many in the profession and out of it who will miss his smile of recognition and somewhat quizzical look of regard’

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