In Bolt court, Fleet street, is the Medical Society of London; but it is not in the house formerly the residence of Dr. Johnson, as has been stated in publication after publication;—Dr. J.'s house is now occupied by Bensley the printer. The house was a gift to the society, together with many valuable and scarce volumes, from the philanthropic Dr. Lettsom.
The society was instituted to give the practitioners of the healing art frequent opportunities of meeting together—to receive medical papers, and useful facts respecting difficult and uncommon cases—to excite practitioners to increased exertion by holding forth honorary rewards—and to found a medical library for the use of the respective members. In the course of very few years, the library consisted of 10,000 volumes; its number is now 30,000 ;—Dr. Sim's added 10,000 volumes to the collection. The library was recently under the care of Mr. Pettigrew, the able and highly respectable surgeon; the present librarian is Dr. Hancock. The society has published many volumes of Memoirs of the Society. 'The Society consists of physicians, surgeons, and apothecaries; and others versed in sciences connected with medicine. They have Committees of, 1. Theory and Practice.—2. Anatomy and Physiology.—3. Surgery.—4. Midwifery.—5. Materia Medica and Pharmacy.—6. Botany and Natural History.—7. Natural Philosophy and Chemistry.—It gives annually a gold Fothergillian Medal, value ten guineas, to the author of the best dissertation on a given subject; and the learned of all countries are invited to become candidates. There are also other medals.
Its first meeting was held on the 7th of January 1773. It was opened with an address to the Society, by Dr. Lettsom, on the state of medical knowledge, &c.; but the meetings were held in Crane court, Fleet street, until l788, when Dr. L. presented the Society with the freehold house already mentioned, in Bolt court, Fleet street, which is excellently adapted for all the purposes of the Society. The meetings continue now to be held at this house.
Source: Leigh's New Picture of London. Printed for Samuel Leigh, 18, Strand;
by W. Clowes, Northumberland Court. 1819