Drs. Augustus L. Warner, John Cullen, Lewis Chamberlayne, and Richard Bohannan organized to start a medical school in Richmond under the charter of Hampden-Sydney College. They selected Richmond because they believed the city’s enslaved population, free blacks, and laborers would provide the necessary “clinical material” for a medical school. By the time that lectures started on November 5, 1838 two other physicians had joined the group and are considered founders of the medical school. The Medical Department operated under the Hampden-Sydney charter until February of 1854 when the institution secured its independence as the Medical College of Virginia.
Nineteenth-century medical students purchased tickets to attend lectures. At the Medical Department these tickets cost $20 a course. Faculty members could earn from $500 to $1,000 each academic year from ticket fees on top of their income from private practice, consulting, and other activities.