Gustavus Richard Brown (1747-1804) was a physician and a botanist, who was a lifelong friend of George Washington. He was born near Port Tobacco, Maryland to Dr. Gustavus Brown (1689-1765) and Mrs. Margaret Black Boyd, his father’s second wife. Gustavus R. Brown earned his M.D. at the University of Edinburgh in 1768 and wrote a dissertation that year, De ortu animalium caloris. After walking the London hospitals for several months, G.R. Brown returned to his ancestral home, bringing with him a large collection of plants and flowers collected by him at a stop of the Madeira Islands. He practiced medicine first in Namjemoy and later in Port Tobacco, Charles County, Maryland.

In 1776, during the American Revolution, G.R. Brown and his nephew, Dr. James Wallace founded a hospital for the inoculation of smallpox near the Potomac River on the Virginia side. From the close of the revolution until his death, G.R. Brown was the favorite preceptor with medical students from adjacent regions in Maryland and Virginia. They came to study at “Rose Hill” near Port Tobacco with its large and elegant house and a 10-acre garden and hothouse with rare and medicinal plants. Connected to the house by a covered walk was “another brick house used by G. R. Brown as an office and for his medical school; there he received and trained ten young men at a time. A large well lighted basement was used as a dissecting-room..."

In 1799, he was a founding member of the state medical society, the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland. In 1799, he was called by Drs. Dick and Craik to the bedside of George Washington during his last illness. In a letter to Dr. Craik, “he acknowledges that they were wrong in bleeding Washington so much.” Dr. G.R. Brown was in active practice until his last short illness. He died at “Rose Hill,” near Port Tobacco, September 30, 1804.


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Lecture Notes