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HUNTER, John (1728-1793)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0406 Hunter
Held at: St George's Hospital
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Full title: HUNTER, John (1728-1793)
Date(s): c1750-c1789
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 14 volumes and 1 letter
Name of creator(s): Hunter, John, 1728-1793, anatomist and surgeon


Administrative/Biographical history:

William Hunter (1718-1783) had opened his school of anatomy in Covent Garden in 1745, and his brother John joined him as his apprentice in 1748. John attended William Cheselden's surgical practice at Chelsea Hospital during 1749-1750 and in 1751 he became an apprentice at St Bartholomew's Hospital under the surgeon Percival Pott. In 1754 he entered St George's Hospital as a surgeon's pupil and was appointed House Surgeon in 1756, but resigned the post after only five months. He was elected to the surgeoncy of St George's in 1767.

When St George's Hospital had opened in 1733, six physicians and three surgeons had been appointed as the medical officers and were permitted a small number of students who accompanied them on the wards or attended operations. The fees collected from these pupils were pooled between the medical officers but there was no general teaching or lectures. Hunter attempted to formalise the teaching and invited all pupils to attend his surgical lectures and his brother William's anatomical lectures at the School of Anatomy in Great Windmill Street, opened by that William in 1768. In 1783 John suggested that St George's should have its own medical school run along the same lines as the Guys' Hospital school, with each of the St George's surgeons giving six lectures annually, though his colleagues rejected the idea. An acrimonious conflict developed between Hunter and his peers at St George's on the instruction of pupils. At a board meeting on 16 Oct 1793 during the discussion of the issue, Hunter suffered a fit of apoplexy leading to his death.

Hunter's pupils revolutionised medicine in the first half of the 19th century. These included Edward Jenner, renowned for his work in vaccinating against Smallpox, and Everard Home, Hunter's brother-in-law, who gave the first recorded lecture in St George's in 1803.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of or relating to John Hunter comprising notes of lectures delivered by William Hunter, Donald Monro and John Rutherford, (4 volumes), including 'The operations in surgery of William Hunter with the methods of salivating' (1754), 'A course of lectures on the theory and practice of midwifery' by Dr C Mackenzie, London (22 Oct 1770), 'Gravid Uterus' by Monro (1752), lectures on anatomy and musculature by W Hunter, London (1754), lectures on the 'lues venerea' [syphilis] by Rutherford, Edinburgh (1750) and Monro, London (1751) and on rickets by Monro, Edinburgh (1751), and an undated clinical lecture by Rutherford; lecture notes of W Hunter on the brain, muscles, senses, sleep, digestion, circulation and physiology, undated (2 volumes); letter from John Hunter to Edward Jenner, informing Jenner of his election to the Royal Society, 26 Feb 1789; notes of lectures delivered by John Hunter, undated (2 volumes); notes of lectures delivered by John Hunter, 1779-1780; 'A Rationale of Surgery' collected from the lectures of John Hunter by Charles Brandon Trye, 1783 (3 volumes); notebook containing two fragments of manuscripts in the same hand together, comprising 'notes of twelve gratuitous lectures on the principal operations in surgery, delivered annually to the pupils of St George's' by Sir Everard Home, and abbreviated version of 'A Rationale of Surgery', undated; notes of lectures delivered by Percival Pott, undated.

Note: this collection is currently on loan to the Royal College of Surgeons.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

As given in scope and content.

Conditions governing access:

Researchers are requested to contact the archivist for an appointment. Certain records (e.g. patient's clinical notes, post-mortem registers etc) may be closed for 100 years after creation.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopies and photographs of original material may be supplied, subject to the physical state of the material concerned. Due acknowledgement to St George's Hospital and St George's Hospital Medical School should be given for original material subsequently reproduced or published.

Finding aids:

Catalogued on database at St George's Hospital Library Special Collections and available on online finding aid.

Archival Information

Archival history:

The two volumes of notes of lectures by John Hunter were owned by John Houison, 5 Suffolk Street, Charing Cross. The notes of lectures by Percival Pott were owned by Richard Edmondson.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Not given.

Allied Materials

Related material:

St George's Library Special Collections also hold several printed works by Hunter and contemporaries.

Papers of Hunter are also held by the Royal College of Surgeons of England: correspondence and papers (Ref.: NRA 9521 RCS scientific); Royal Society, London: papers; Natural History Museum, London: papers; British Library, Manuscript Collections: anatomical notes (Ref.: Add MS 34407); King's College London: surgical lecture notes (Ref: KCLCA Hunter); Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine: lecture notes, [1765-1787] (Ref.: MSS 2959-64, 5597-98), notes on the principles of surgery and venereal diseases (Ref.: acc 349837); Oxford University: Bodleian Library, Special Collections and Western Manuscripts: lecture notes (copies), 1813 (Ref.: MS Don e 116); National Library of Medicine: lecture notes (Ref.: NUC MS 66-1486); Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh: lecture notes, [1770] (Ref.: Hunter; NRA 16015 Coll of Physicians); Royal College of Surgeons of England: letters (32) to Edward Jenner, 1773-1793.

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Robert Baxter as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project. Sources: Dictionary of National Biography; Catalogue by Susan Grove and Christine Patel, John Hunter exhibition, St George's Hospital Medical School, Oct 1993.

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:
Jul 2002

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