Tröhler U (2003). John Clark (1744-1805).

© Ulrich Tröhler, Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM), University of Bern, Finkenhubelweg 11, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland, Email:

Cite as: Tröhler U (2003). John Clark (1744-1805). JLL Bulletin: Commentaries on the history of treatment evaluation (

John Clark was a Scot who studied in Edinburgh with John Gregory, and graduated MD from St. Andrews. He then served as surgeon on a ship of the Honourable East India Company (1768-1772). After settling in Newcastle around 1775, Clark established himself as a medical philanthropist there, founding a dispensary in 1777, then a literary and medical society. Physicians at the established Infirmary opposed the dispensary initially, but Clark eventually joined the staff of the infirmary, albeit not without calling for management reforms.

Clark’s first scientific book, Observations on Diseases in Long Voyages to Hot Countries , was published in 1773, with further editions appearing during the war years 1792 and 1806. Other methodologically interesting publications followed in which he drew on his records from the Newcastle Dispensary (see his Observations on Fevers, especially those of the Continued Type (1780)).

Clark insisted that numerical analysis of such data was needed and that these should include successful and fatal cases alike. John Millar, who grasped evidence for the validity of his arithmetic method where he could find it, repeatedly expressed his satisfaction for Clark’s work, which had been so singularly parallel to his own.

John Clark died in Bath in 1805.


Clark J (1792). Observations on the diseases which prevail in long voyages to hot countries. London: J Murray.

Clark J (1780). Observations on fevers, especially of the continued type. London: T Cadell.