The group is also referred to as Septem contra Edinam ("Seven against Edinburgh", a term modeled on the Seven Against Thebes of Greek mythology). Although over the four-year campaign some of the original seven left and others joined, the Edinburgh Seven are considered to be as follows:
These were the seven women listed in the petition made to the Royal Infirmary on 15 November 1870 requesting admission to clinical teaching. These women were all registered in the GMC Medical Students Register between 1869 and 1870 as bona fide medical students and required clinical instruction at the Infirmary in order to fulfil the requirements of a medical degree.
Sophia Jex-Blake applied to study medicine in March 1869 and although the Medical Faculty and the Senatus Academus voted in favour of allowing her to study medicine, the University Court rejected her application on the grounds that the university could not make the necessary arrangements 'in the interest of one lady'
Jex-Blake then advertised in The Scotsman and other national newspapers for more women to join her. The first two women to write to her were Isabel Thorne and Edith Pechey. Edith Pechey’s letter read:
Do you think anything more is requisite to ensure success than moderate abilities and a good share of perseverance? I believe I may lay claim to these, together with a real love of the subjects of study, but as regards any thorough knowledge of these subjects at present, I fear I am deficient in most. I am afraid I should not without a good deal of previous study be able to pass the preliminary exam.