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Clift, William: Notes taken at lectures by Sir Everard Home

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0114 MS0259
Held at: Royal College of Surgeons of England
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Full title: Clift, William: Notes taken at lectures by Sir Everard Home
Date(s): 1794-1808
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 2 volumes
Name of creator(s): Clift | William | 1775-1849 | museum curator and scientific illustrator


Administrative/Biographical history:

William Clift was born near Bodmin, Cornwall, in 1775. He was educated locally and demonstrated an aptitude for illustration. This was noticed by Walter Raleigh Gilbert and his wife Nancy, who had been a schoolfellow of Anne Home, who had married John Hunter in 1771. On Gilbert's recommendation, Clift was apprenticed to John Hunter as an anatomical assistant, until Hunter's sudden death in 1793. After Hunter's death, his collection of specimens was offered for sale to the government. During the period of negotiations, Clift was employed to look after the collections for a small income. He did this until 1799 when the collections were purchased by the government. During this period, Clift feared for the safety of the collection, and copied out many of Hunter's unpublished manuscripts. This meant that much of the content was saved from loss through Sir Everard Home's destruction of his brother-in-law's manuscripts in 1823. In 1799 the government asked The Company of Surgeons (soon to become the Royal College of Surgeons in 1800) to look after the John Hunter collections. The Trustees of the College then made Clift conservator of the new Hunterian Museum paying him 80 per annum. He was a prolific record keeper and his diaries are a valuable resource for information about the workings of the College and Museum as well as wider social life in London. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1823; he was a member of the Society for Animal Chemistry; and also a fellow of the Geological Society. Clift retired from the museum in 1842, when he was replaced by Sir Richard Owen as curator. He died in 1849.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of William Clift, 1794-1808, comprising 2 volumes of manuscript notes taken at lectures on practical surgery by Sir Everard Home, delivered at 13 Castle Street, Leicester Square, 1794-1796. The notes were corrected by Clift in 1808.

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:

Additional manuscripts catalogue.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Purchased from R Thornton, in 1977.

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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