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January 28, 1961


JAMA. 1961;175(4):319-321. doi:10.1001/jama.1961.03040040051013

The Company of Barbers, incorporated in London in 1462, shared with the Guild of Surgeons (not incorporated) the distinction of being the predecessor of the Royal College of Surgeons of London, which was granted a Charter by the Crown in 1800.1 The dissolution of the monasteries in England between 1536 and 1539 forced many monks to undertake some gainful occupation. Because of their knowledge of medicine and surgery, meager though it was, they chose this calling, which seemed sufficiently profitable to provide the necessities of life. The unsatisfactory result prompted Henry VIII to bring order into the surgical ranks by uniting the barbers and the surgeons. This union was depicted by Holbein who included surgeons and barbers in his famous painting. The Company of Barber-Surgeons flourished between 1540 and 1745. It was one of the Livery Companies which came under the control of the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of

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