Dun, Sir Patrick (1642–1713), physician and benefactor, was born January 1642 in Aberdeen, Scotland, and baptised there 13 January 1642, third child and second son among at least three sons and four daughters of Charles Dun (d. 1652), dyer and burgess of the city, and his second wife, Catherine (née Burnet); he was the grand-nephew and godson of Dr Patrick Dun (1581–1652), benefactor of Aberdeen Grammar School, and principal and dean of the medical faculty of Marischal College, Aberdeen. Probably educated at Aberdeen Grammar School, he entered (1658) the arts class of Marischal College (date of degree not recorded); studied in Valence and in Dauphiné, France; graduated MD from Dublin University (date not recorded); and was incorporated MD in absentia at Oxford University (1677), at the request of the university chancellor, James Butler (qv), duke of Ormond.
Appointed physician to the state and to the lord lieutenant, Dun settled in Ireland in 1676, established an extensive practice, and was elected (c.1677) one of fourteen fellows of the College of Physicians of Ireland. A leading figure of the college, often selected as its public representative, he was elected president annually from 1681 to 1687. In 1688 he fled Ireland, together with many protestants at that time. He returned as physician to the Williamite army (c.1689) and served in the field, before returning to Dublin as physician at the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham (1690–92), which was a base for war casualties. In letters to George Clarke (qv), secretary at war, he vividly described the shortages at the hospital and sought increased funds, in light of which he requested that his wages be deferred; he, and later his widow, were subsequently unsuccessful in securing reimbursement, despite repeated petitions and an agreement by parliament to pay his arrears. To Clarke, who was with the army at Athlone in 1691, he sent ‘two dozen of bottles of the best claret . . . a dozen and a half potted chickens . . . and four green geese. This is the physic I advise you to take’ (Widdess, 31). Dun served (1705–13) as physician to the Royal Hospital and physician general to the army.
Reelected president of the college (1690–92) and desiring its greater autonomy after controversy with TCD, he secured and lent money towards the cost of a new royal charter for the college, which was incorporated in 1692 as the King and Queen's College of Physicians in (later ‘of ’) Ireland. Under the new charter the powers of the college were increased: it won its independence from TCD, acquired regulatory powers over medical practice, and was allowed to take the bodies of executed criminals for dissection; it was also provided with a hall and a physic garden. One of the college's most dynamic and far-seeing presidents, Dun was nominated as its first president in 1692, reelected in 1693, 1696, 1698, and 1706, and served as censor in 1694, 1695, 1697, 1699, and 1707, an unequalled record of service in the history of the college. He presented to the college the ‘Big Book’ later known as ‘Dun's Book’, in which the charter, by-laws, and other important records were transcribed. While president in 1693, Dun engaged Dr Ralph Howard (qv), a censor and fellow of the college, in a fight in York St.; they were censured by the college for their unseemly behaviour and ridiculed in epigram and verse including The duel between two old physicians, attributed to Jonathan Swift (qv).
An original member of the Dublin Philosophical Society (founded 1683), Dun was in advance of his time when, despite popular prejudice, he publicly advocated the practice of anatomy and provided the body of an executed criminal in 1684 for the first recorded public dissection in Dublin, which was carried out by the surgeon Josias Patterson. Dun presented a paper to the society between 1684 and 1688, ‘On the analysis of mineral waters’.
He occupied a prominent place in the social and professional life of Dublin, and was returned to the Irish parliament in 1692 as member for Killyleagh, Co. Down, and for Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, in 1695 and in 1703, though he made little contribution to its proceedings. His position among influential families was secured when he married (1694) Mary (d. 1748), daughter of Col. John Jephson of Mallow and his wife Bridget, daughter of Richard Boyle (qv), archbishop of Tuam, and sister of Michael Boyle (qv), archbishop of Armagh. The Duns had one child, Boyle (1697–1700). Dun was knighted by the lords justices of Ireland in 1696.
His commitment to the college and to the development of medical education is evident from his will: he left his property, real and personal, to his wife, provided she remain a widow, and after her death, in trust to the college. In a deed of 1704 and in his will of 1711, in collaboration with his friend and patient William King (qv), archbishop of Dublin, he gave detailed instructions concerning his bequest, whereby the college could establish a medical school through the foundation of a chair or chairs endowed by him for the instruction of students of physic, surgery, and pharmacy – a visionary scheme for its time. It was realised with the foundation (1715) of the king's professorship of physic in the city of Dublin, which in 1742 was replaced by three professorships in surgery, in midwifery, and in pharmacy and materia medica. He bequeathed his house on Inns Quay, Dublin, to provide accommodation for the professors and as a meeting place for the college; and his library, consisting of 300 books, which formed the nucleus of the present college library and bears his name. Though it was never Dun's intention, funds from his estate financed a temporary teaching hospital, Sir Patrick Dun's Hospital on Blind Quay (Lower Exchange St.) (1792–6), which preceded the founding of the permanent hospital (opened 1808, completed 1818) on Grand Canal St., established by the school of physic act (1800). The funds resulting from the closure of the hospital (1987) contributed to the founding of the Sir Patrick Dun's Research Laboratories at St James's Hospital, Dublin, where a ward is also named after him. His legacy contributed to the flowering of the Irish school of medicine, though his will proved difficult to administer and involved protracted litigation and legislation. His letters are preserved in the Lyons collection (TCD, MSS 1995–2008) and in the correspondence of George Clarke (TCD, MS 749).
Dun attended his last college meeting on 20 April 1713, and died on 24 May at his home on Inns Quay, Dublin, of fever during an epidemic in the city. He was buried in St Michan's church, Dublin, where he had been a churchwarden. His portrait by Sir Godfrey Kneller hangs in RCPI, which depicts Dun in the robes of a doctor of physic of Dublin University.