AIM25 : Click here to go back to the AIM25 homepage
Archives in London and the M25 area

Cantlie, Sir James (1851-1926)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0120 MSS.1456-1499 and 6931-6941
Held at: Wellcome Library
  Click here to find out how to view this collection at ›
Full title: Cantlie, Sir James (1851-1926)
Date(s): 1874-1923
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 55 items (volumes, files or bundles of papers)
Name of creator(s): Cantlie | Sir | James | 1851-1926 | Knight | surgeon
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

Sir James Cantlie was born in 1851 in Banffshire. He took his first degree at Aberdeen University and carried out his clinical training at Charing Cross Hospital, London. In 1877 he became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons and Assistant Surgeon to Charing Cross Hospital; in 1886 he became Surgeon at Charing Cross. In 1888 he resigned to take up a position as Dean of the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese (where the future Chinese leader Sun Yat Sen was one of his pupils), combining his work here with private surgical practice. His work during these years included investigations into leprosy and into various tropical diseases; in 1894 he encountered an outbreak of plague in Hong Kong. In 1897 he returned to London, where he was involved in the setting up of the Journal of Tropical Medicine in 1898 and of the London School of Tropical Medicine in 1899. He was President of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. During the early years of the twentieth century and particularly during the First World War his work centred on the provision and training of ambulance services. He died in 1926.


Scope and content/abstract:

MSS.1456-1499 comprise chiefly drafts of essays and papers by Cantlie, spanning his entire career but with the bulk (MSS.1461-1486) dating from his years in Hong Kong. The subject is generally tropical medicine; diseases discussed include leprosy, dropsy, kala-azar, beri-beri, cholera and malaria, with particular emphasis upon leprosy. Worth individual notice are MSS.1456, in which Cantlie describes a case of blood poisoning that he acquired in the dissecting room at Charing Cross Hospital; MS.1459, commemorating the military surgeon Paul Bennett Conolly (died at Khartoum on the Gordon Relief Expedition of 1885); 1461, 1466 and 1463, two diaries and a cashbook respectively to do with his Hong Kong medical practice; 1469, a fragment of a register of patients in the Hong Kong Hospital; 1480-1481, casebooks compiled in Hong Kong; 1489, a dummy copy of the first edition of the Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, founded by Cantlie; and 1499, a collection of questionnaire responses relating to the life history of Eurasian "half-castes" in which Cantlie is one of many respondents drawn from the western fringes of the Pacific (China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand). MSS.6931-6941 contain correspondence, personal and travel papers, medical notes, printed material (including much material relating to papers published in the Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene), illustrative material and certificates, the last also including items relating to other members of Cantlie's family.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

MSS.1456-1499 are arranged in chronological order of composition with the exception of the final item (MS.1499, a collection of questionnaire responses relating to the life history of Eurasian "half-castes") which is placed last as Cantlie is only one of many respondents to the survey. MSS.6931-6941 are arranged thematically, as follows: MS.6931, correspondence; MS.6932, personal and travel papers; MSS.6933-6934, medical notes; MSS.6935, printed material, general; MSS.6936-6938, material relating to papers published in the Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, MS.6938 comprising illustrative material; MSS.6939-6940, illustrative material; MS.6941, certificates.

Conditions governing access:

The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopies/photographs/microfilm are supplied for private research only at the Archivist's discretion. Please note that material may be unsuitable for copying on conservation grounds, and that photographs cannot be photocopied in any circumstances. Readers are restricted to 100 photocopies in twelve months. Researchers who wish to publish material must seek copyright permission from the copyright owner.

Finding aids:

Described in: S.A.J. Moorat, Catalogue of Western Manuscripts on Medicine and Science in the Wellcome Historical Medical Library (London: Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, 1962-1973). Detailed catalogue available at

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Presented by Major Neil Cantlie, 1931 (accession numbers 69762, 89186).

Allied Materials

Related material:

The Wellcome Library holds MS.4780, a collection of reports on cases in the Alice Memorial Hospital, Hong Kong, by John Christopher Thomson (1863-1943) which contains a few contributions by Cantlie; MSS.2934-2935 comprise examination papers by pupils at the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese (among them the future political leader Sun Yat Sen) kept by Cantlie in his personal papers.

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
description compiled by Christopher Hilton based upon those in the Library's published finding aid by S.A.J. Moorat and subsequent typescript supplementary finding aids by Richard Aspin, Christopher Hilton, Keith Moore and Richard Palmer. Biographical detail from Plarr's lives of the fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, revised by Sir D'Arcy Power with the assistance of W.G. Spencer and G.E. Gask (London: Royal College of Surgeons of England, 1997).

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:
December 2000

Related Subject Search

* To search for other records with similar subjects, tick any subjects above then click "Run New Search"

Related Personal Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"

Related Placename Search

* To search for other records with similar placenames, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"