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Hunter Family Album

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0114 MS0253
Held at: Royal College of Surgeons of England
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Full title: Hunter Family Album
Date(s): [1900-1950]
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 1 volume
Name of creator(s): Hunter | John | 1728-1793 | surgeon and anatomist
Hunter | William | 1718-1783 | anatomist and surgeon


Administrative/Biographical history:

John Hunter was born in East Kilbride, in 1728. He received little formal education. He moved to London in 1748, with his elder brother William Hunter (1718-1783) who was a midwife and physician, and a private lecturer in surgery and anatomy. Initially John made dissections and prepared specimens for William's lectures, and he started attending lectures in 1749. He became a surgeon-pupil at St George's Hospital in 1754, and started to give lectures for William. By 1750 John was so proficient at dissection that he was able to make the first set of preparations for his brother's comprehensive study of pregnancy, The Anatomy of the Human Gravid Uterus, published in 1774. John was commissioned as an army surgeon in 1761, and joined the British military expedition to Belle Īle, off the northern coast of France. He was posted to Portugal in 1762. While serving with the army he laid the foundations for future work by studying the regeneration of the tails of lizards. He also carried out researches on the treatment of venereal disease and gunshot wounds. On his return to London he taught practical anatomy and operative surgery, and worked with the dentist James Spence. The latter resulted in two major publications: The Natural History of Human Teeth (1771) and A Practical Treatise on the Diseases of the Teeth (1778) which included important accounts of the transplantation of teeth in people, as well as the more famous experiment of the transplantation of a human tooth into a cock's comb. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1767 and became a Member of the Company of Surgeons in 1768. He was appointed surgeon at St George's Hospital. He gave lectures in anatomy at the Incorporated Society of Artists in 1769-1770. Shortly afterwards he started to lecture in surgery to his pupils from St George's Hospital. In 1775 Hunter began to advertise a course of lectures on 'The Principles and Practice of Surgery', and he continued to stage these each year until his death. His surgical achievements were recognised by his appointment as Surgeon-extraordinary to George III and as Croonian lecturer at the Royal Society. He was elected a Member of the American Philosophical Society and received the Copley Medal of the Royal Society. He was elected a Member of the Court of Assistants of the Company of Surgeons in 1789. Hunter had been appointed Assistant Surgeon-General to the armed forces in 1785, and Surgeon-General and Inspector General of Regimental Hospitals in 1790. He drew up a scheme for training army medical staff which he successfully put into practice. Hunter was also one of the first vice-presidents of the London Veterinary College, established in 1791. He died in 1793.

William Hunter was born in Long Calderwood, Lanarkshire, Scotland, in 1718. Intended for the church, he attended the University of Glasgow from 1731-1736 where he was exposed to the philosophical teachings of Francis Hutcheson which turned him against the rigid dogmas of Presbyterian theology. An acquaintance with the physician William Cullen (1710-1790) interested him in the medical profession, and he studied with Cullen for three years. Eager to widen his experience, he went to London in 1741 where he worked as an assistant to William Smellie MD (1697-1763) and then from 1741-1742 with James Douglas, both of whom fostered his interest in obstetrics and gynaecology. Between 1741-1749 he was tutor to William George Douglas. In 1750 he was awarded an MD by the University of Glasgow. In 1749 he was appointed as a surgeon at Middlesex Hospital, England, before transferring for a brief time to the British Lying-in Hospital. He was particularly interested in obstetrics and in 1762 was called to attend Queen Charlotte on the birth of her first child. Two years later, he was appointed as Physician Extraordinary to Queen Charlotte and rapidly became the most sought after physician in London. His research, embodied in his Anatomical Description of the Human Gravid Uterus (1774) and his practical example, including the establishment of specialist training for both physicians and midwives, did much to establish obstetrics as a respectable branch of medicine for the first time, though he took a perverse pleasure in continuing to describe himself as a despised 'man-midwife'. He died in 1783.


Scope and content/abstract:

The Hunter Family Album, early- mid 20th century, comprising a scrapbook containing material relating to John and William Hunter. Including photographs, postcards, letters, drawings, paintings, press cuttings, manuscript notes, and extracts from journals. Subjects covered include Long Calderwood, where William and John Hunter were born; memorial statues, burials and John Hunter's reinterment; attendance at lectures; information relating to their work and their museums; information relating to their places of residence, for example, Windmill Street, Leicester Square, and Earl's Court; and information about the Hunter family.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

As outlined in Scope and Content.

Conditions governing access:

By written appointment only.

Conditions governing reproduction:

No photocopying permitted.

Finding aids:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The material was collected throughout the 20th century from various sources, including the College's Stone Collection of autograph letters and other manuscripts.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Anya Turner.

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

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