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Professional regulation of barbers and surgeons

The Company of Barbers and Surgeons

The Company of Barbers and Surgeons was formed in 1540 when the Fellowship of Surgeons merged with the Barbers' Company following an Act of Parliament. For centuries barbers had undertaken blood-letting (later known as phlebotomy) and minor surgery. They had a guild by the 14th century, as did the Fellowship of Surgeons.

Charters of incorporation assured their status and the two bodies were incorporated as one, as the Barber-Surgeons' Company of London, in 1540. The company had powers relating to the education, conduct and licensure of surgeons and was involved in the professional regulation of surgeons and barbers.

Later developments

In 1745, the surgeons broke away from the barbers, to form the Company of Surgeons, which in turn became the Royal College of Surgeons in 1800. In 1843, a new royal charter extended the college's remit and it became the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

Today the organisation continues to promote the advancement of surgical standards and improvements in patient care. It does so by conducting examinations, providing training and qualifications, and supporting surgeons in their careers.


Royal College of Surgeons of England.
History of the RCS.
Royal College of Surgeons of England; nd.

The Worshipful Company of Barbers.
History of the Company.
The Worshipful Company of Barbers; nd.

Cope Z.
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1962; 6(3): 298–299.