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Royal College of Surgeons of England

Cheselden, William (1688-1752)


Reference code(s): GB 0114 MS0221

Held at: Royal College of Surgeons of England

Title: Cheselden, William (1688-1752)

Date(s): 1749-c 1990

Level of description: Collection (fonds)

Extent: 1 box

Name of creator(s): Cheselden | William | 1688-1752 | surgeon and anatomist


Administrative/Biographical history:

William Cheselden was born in Somerby, Leicestershire, in 1688. He probably attended the free grammar school in Leicester. In 1703 Cheselden became apprenticed for 7 years with James Ferne, surgeon in London. He also studied anatomy under William Cowper. He completed his apprenticeship, and passed the final examination of the Barber-Surgeons' Company in 1711. He started a successful course of thirty-five lectures on anatomy, comparative anatomy, and animal economy (physiology), combined with indications for surgical operations, publishing the syllabus in 1711. He was appointed assistant surgeon at St Thomas's Hospital in 1718, and was made a principal surgeon within a year, enabling him to develop his own operative techniques, especially for bladder stone extraction. He was also appointed surgeon for the stone at the Westminster Infirmary and St George's Hospital. His methods had a good record of success. He was made Fellow of the Royal Society in 1711. His reports in the Transactions of the Royal Society included an examination of a skeleton in a Roman Urn at St Albans in 1712, and the restoration of sight in a thirteen year old boy in 1728. Cheselsden, as well as being known for successful lithotomies, was also well known as an eye surgeon. He was appointed surgeon to Queen Caroline in 1727. He resigned his hospital appointments in 1737, to take up the post of resident surgeon in the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. Cheselden was involved in the negotiations towards the separation of surgeons from barbers. He was admitted to the court of assistants of the Barber-Surgeon's Company in 1739, he became an examiner in surgery and by 1744 was renter warden. In 1745 the Company of Surgeons was established with John Ranby as master and Cheselden as senior warden. He died in 1752.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of William Cheselden, 1749-c 1990, comprising a deed of sale for the copyright of Anatomy of the Human Body by William Cheselden, to the publishers, Charles Hitch and Robert Dodsley for 200, dated 8 Apr 1749; two receipts for shares, dated 19 Oct 1771 by W Woodfall, for one 16th share in Cheselden's Anatomy to Mr Dodsley, and dated 22 Oct - 25 Nov 1778 by the trustees of Mr William Nicoll, also for one 16th share of Cheselden's Anatomy to James Dodsley; and photographs of the original drawings for Cheselden's Osteographia, 1733. The drawings for the vignettes in the Osteographia were by Jacobus Schijnvoet of Amsterdam, and the drawings for the plates were by Gerard van der Gucht. The photographs are mounted on card and numbered on the back.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

As outlined in Scope and Content.

Conditions governing access:

By written appointment only.

Conditions governing reproduction:

No photocopying permitted.

Finding aids:

Catalogue of Manuscripts in the Library of the Royal College of Surgeons of England (1928) by Victor G Plarr.



Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The provenance of the deed of sale is not known.

The original collection of drawings was given to the Royal College of Surgeons of England on long term loan in 1952, in return for the drawings being conserved and remounted. The work was carrried out at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1957. The collection was returned to the Royal Academy of Arts in 1989, and photographs of the collection were retained by the College for reference. The photographs were accessioned in 1993.


Existence and location of originals:

The original drawings are located at the Royal Academy of Arts.


Archivist's note: Compiled by Anya Turner.
Source: The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: Sep 2008

Bones | Musculoskeletal system | Anatomy | Biology
Contract law | Civil law | Legal systems | Law
Copyright | Intellectual property | Civil law | Legal systems | Law
Drawing | Graphic arts
Illustration | Graphic arts
Painting | Fine arts
Share dealing | Financial markets | Investment | Finance

Personal names
Cheselden | William | 1688-1752 | surgeon and anatomist
Dodsley | Robert | fl 1749 | bookseller and publisher
Hitch | Charles | fl 1749 | bookseller and publisher

Corporate names