History of RCPI

Discover some of the key moments in the College's history from its foundation in 1654 to the present time.

Over 360 years of history



The Fraternity of Physicians of Trinity Hall is founded by John Stearne, Professor of Medicine at Trinity College Dublin, to improve the practice of medicine in Ireland.

28 June 1667

First Royal Charter

The College of Physicians in Dublin is established by Royal Charter granted by King Charles II. Under the Charter no person can practice medicine within a seven mile radius of Dublin unless licensed by the College. The Charter named the first 14 Fellows of the College, and confirmed Stearne as President for life.

16 August 1667

Grant of Arms

A Grant of Arms was made for the new College. The arms show the celestial hand descending out of a cloud to take the pulse of the temporal hand, over the Irish harp. The motto Ratione et Experientia (reason and experience) is also granted. A version of these arms and motto remains in use to this day.

15 December 1692

Second Royal Charter

A second Royal Charter is granted by King William and Queen Mary, the powers of the College to grant licenses is extended to cover the whole island of Ireland; the College also has the power to examine midwives and Apothecaries. The College is renamed the King and Queen’s College of Physicians in Ireland, and Patrick Dun is appointed President. The 1692 Charter, although heavily modified, is still the governing document of RCPI to this day.

24 May 1713

Death of Sir Patrick Dun

Sir Patrick Dun, 13 times President of the College, died on 24 May. In his will, Dun left his substantial property in trust for his wife during her life and, on her death, to the College. The funds were to be used to establish a Professorship, and became an important source of income for the College into the 19th century. He also left his library to College.


School of Physic Act

The School of Physic Act is passed, settling a lengthy dispute over the use of the money from Dun’s estates. Three King’s Professors are appointed at a fixed salary, with a fourth Professor of Midwifery to follow. The rest of the income from the estate is to go towards establishing a hospital, to be called Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital.

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