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Student records of St Thomas's Hospital Medical School

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0100 TH/FP
Held at: King's College London College Archives
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Full title: Student records of St Thomas's Hospital Medical School
Date(s): 1723-1986
Level of description: Sub-fonds of St Thomas's Hospital Medical School records
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Extent: 80 volumes
Name of creator(s): St Thomas's Hospital Medical School


Administrative/Biographical history:

St Thomas's Hospital has its origins in a small infirmary attached to the Augustan Priory of St Mary the Virgin (St Mary Overie), which was destroyed by fire in 1212. It was re-built at the south end of London Bridge on a site occupied by the hospital from 1215 to 1862. Medical education at St Thomas's Hospital was gradually formalised at the end of the seventeenth century, with regulations introduced to control the entry of pupils into the hospital. Students were educated on the wards long before this time. A record of one of the apprentices of a surgeon at St Thomas's appears in 1561. By the second half of the seventeenth century surgeons at the hospital were accepting the apprentices of other surgeons for short periods of tuition within the hospital. These students were the forerunners of dressers, and problems with their discipline and uncertainty over their status led to the formulation of some basic regulations to control the entry of students into the hospital. Surgeons were restricted to taking three dressers each, but this was frequently broken, and the number increased to four. The physicians at the hospital had some pupils, though a fewer number than the surgeons. From about the early 18th century the Hospital Apothecary also apprenticed pupils. Guy's Hospital opened in the grounds of St Thomas's in 1725, and lectures, wards and operations were attended by the students of both hospitals. In 1768 the arrangement was formalised and continued until Guy's established its own medical school in 1825.

Until the mid nineteenth century there were three types of student attending the medical school, the surgeons' apprentices and dressers, dressers who had served an apprenticeship elsewhere and completing their training with a particular surgeon, and pupils, who were not attached to any particular surgeon. Pupils first appeared in 1723, and tended to be on the periphery of surgical procedures. Their numbers were unrestricted and they paid smaller fees than dressers. All students were able to attend the courses of lectures provided by the teaching staff at the hospitals and dissection classes. The study of anatomy was the most prestigious course offered at St Thomas's. William Cheseldon, one of the most important and influential anatomists of the eighteenth century, was surgeon to St Thomas's Hospital from 1719 to 1738 and gave lectures from 1714. Other influential medical teachers included George Fordyce, who was Physician from 1770 to 1802, Henry Cline, Surgeon, from 1784 to 1812 and Sir Astley Paston Cooper, lecturer from 1797 to 1825. New accommodation for dissection classes was provided in 1814, and allowed up two hundred students at a time to practice dissection. Other courses offered to students after the unification of the medical schools included chemistry, materia medica, physiology and midwifery. A broadly based syllabus of medical lectures was delivered by William Saunders, Physician at Guy's Hospital, from about 1770. Students were also able to attend courses offered by the recognised private schools of medicine, notably the Windmill Street school, run by Samuel Sharp and later William and John Hunter, Joshua Brookes' Theatre of Anatomy in Blenheim Street and the Webb Street School of Anatomy and Medicine.

The popularity and influence of the medical schools led to the building of new facilities at St Thomas's Hospital. New accommodation was opened in 1814, and comprised a museum, laboratory, library, dissection room and large lecture theatre. A dispute over the appointment of the successor to the Surgeon Astley Cooper led to Guy's Hospital establishing its own medical school in 1825. St Thomas's lost several lecturers, and the popularity of Astley Cooper at Guy's and the establishment of new teaching hospitals in London such as University College led to a period of decline for St Thomas's medical school. The school continued to offer lectures on a wide variety of subjects and provide regular clinical training, but falling student rolls and therefore income from fees hampered long term development and planning. After 1825 students of surgeons continued to attend operations at both hospitals, until a disagreement amongst the students in 1836 sparked off a riot in the operating theatre at St Thomas's and the arrangement ended.

In 1866 the extension of the railway from London Bridge to Charing Cross forced the Hospital to move to a temporary site at Newington. A site at Stangate in Lambeth, at the foot of Westminster Bridge, was bought from the Metropolitan Board of Works for 95,000. Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone of the new building in 1868, which was also opened by her in 1871. The new accommodation and new teaching staff, including Charles Murchison, Physician to the hospital from 1871 to 1879, heralded a good start for the new medical school. However, by 1892 most of the teaching staff had left and the new student intake was only forty-three. The enlargement of facilities at the school helped revive the school's reputation, and by 1900 student numbers were improving and increased rapidly.

With the establishment of the National Health Service the medical school became a separate corporate body in 1948 and one of the general medical schools of the University of London. In 1949 the school accepted its first female medical student. The annual intake of students continued to increase throughout the 1960s and 1970s. In 1982 the medical schools of Guy's and St Thomas's Hospitals reunited as the United Medical and Dental Schools of Guy's and St Thomas' Hospitals (UMDS). The new institution was then enlarged by the amalgamation of the Royal Dental Hospital of London School of Dental Surgery with Guy's Dental School on 1 August 1983 and the addition on the Institute of Dermatology on 1 August 1985. In 1990 King's College London began discussions with the United Schools and, following formal agreement to merge in 1992 and the King's College London Act 1997, the formal merger with UMDS took place on 1 August 1998. The merger created three new schools: the Guy's, King's and St Thomas' Schools of Medicine, of Dentistry and of Biomedical Sciences, and reconfigured part of the former School of Life, Basic Medical & Health Sciences as the new School of Health & Life Sciences.


Scope and content/abstract:

Student records of St Thomas's Hospital Medical School, 1723-1986, comprising - Index of Pupils and Dressers St Thomas's 1723-1819,and Guy's 1768-1819; Registers of [Anatomy] Pupils 1808-1821; Physicians Pupils 1729-1842; [Surgeon's] Pupils 1723-1775, and Dressers 1750-1796; [Surgeon's] Pupils 1775-1833; [Surgeon's] Dressers 1796-1834; Surgeons Dressers and Pupils entering to the Medical Practice 1788-1812; [Surgeon's] Pupils and dressers cash book 1811-1837; Apothecary's pupils 1753-1759; and Pupils 1760-1768; and Pupils of St Thomas and Mr Guy's Hospitals 1768-1801; Register's and Surgeryman's fees 1799-1841; Lecture Book 1832-1842; Pupils at St Thomas's and Guy's, 1819-1842; Index to Pupil entry books 1825-1930; Pupil Entry books 1825-1981; St Thomas's Hospital Registration of Pupils Attainments and appointments 1869-1905; Registration of examination of Conjoint Board 1890-1906, 1926-1927; Register of St Thomas's Hospital Medical School applicants 1932-1942; Students Register 1905-[1919] (student record books); St Thomas's Hospital Attendance of Clinical Clerks and Dressers 1897-1907; Various course lists 1932-1935; Quarterly Analyses of students 1919-1930; Physics - attendance registers [1900]-1965; Biology- attendance registers 1914-1970; Biology examination marks 1952-1971; Anatomy - attendance register 1883; Anatomy - examination results 1892-1934; Student lists 1977-1982; Student record cards 1976-1981 (incomplete); Student record cards (Microfilm) [1923-1986].

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

As outlined in the Scope and Content

Conditions governing access:

Open, subject to signature of reader's undertaking form.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Director of Archive and Corporate Record Services.

Finding aids:

Detailed catalogue

Archival Information

Archival history:

The register of pupils [pupils fees account book] at St Thomas's and Guy's Hospitals, 1819-1842, was recovered in 1966 from a cellar where it had been placed with debris from a flying bomb raid in 1944.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Transferred from St Thomas's Hospital Medical School Library in 2002.

Allied Materials

Related material:

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Sources: Catalogue of the Printed Books and Manuscripts in the Library of St Thomas's Hospital Medical School (1491-1900) D T Bird (London, 1984). Compiled by Julie Tancell as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

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:
May 2002. Revised June 2004

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