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

HUTCHINSON, Sir Jonathan (1828-1913)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0113 MS-HUTCJ
Held at: Royal College of Physicians
  Click here to find out how to view this collection at ›
Full title: HUTCHINSON, Sir Jonathan (1828-1913)
Date(s): 1889-1906
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 11 volumes
Name of creator(s): Hutchinson | Sir | Jonathan | 1828-1913 | Knight | Physician


Administrative/Biographical history:

Sir Jonathan Hutchinson was born at Selby, Yorkshire, on 23 July 1828, the son of Jonathan Hutchinson, a middleman in the flax trade and a member of the Society of Friends. Brought up as a Quaker, Hutchinson remained influenced by the doctrine of the Quakers throughout his life. He was educated at Selby and then apprenticed to the surgeon Caleb Williams of York in 1845. Between 1846 and 1850 Hutchinson attended both the York School of Medicine, where Williams lectured on materia medica and therapeutics, and the York County Hospital. Hutchinson went to London in 1849 to complete his medical training at St Bartholomew's Hospital. In 1850 he became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons, and a licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries.

Disliking the thought of private practice, he began his medical career writing for the medical journals, and coaching pupils for examinations. From 1853 he wrote weekly hospital reports for the Medical Times and Gazette. He remained a prolific writer throughout his career. In the early 1850s he was also appointed as clinical assistant to the Liverpool Street Chest Hospital, assistant surgeon to the Metropolitan Free Hospital, and soon afterwards joined the staff of the Royal London Ophthalmic Hospital and the Blackfriars Hospital for Skin Diseases. After marrying Jane Pynsent West in 1856, he began private practice in London. In 1859 he was appointed assistant surgeon to the London Hospital.

Hutchinson helped found the New Sydenham Society in 1859, after the dissolution of the original Sydenham Society. He was its secretary throughout its existence, until 1907, and was responsible for editing the many publications of the Society. He was appointed assistant surgeon to the Royal Lock Hospital, and full surgeon to the Royal London Ophthalmic Hospital, in 1862, and in the same year became lecturer on surgery at the London Hospital. Also in 1862 Hutchinson became a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. In 1863 he became full surgeon at the London Hospital and began to lecture in medical ophthalmology, as well as surgery. Due to his new posts he stopped writing his weekly reports for the Medical Times and Gazette. 1863 also saw the publication of his book on inherited syphilis, A Clinical Memoir on Certain Diseases of the Eye and Ear, Consequent on Inherited Syphilis.

Hutchinson became a leading authority on the subjects of ophthalmology, dermatology, neurology, and in particular syphilis, and has been described as `the greatest general practitioner in Europe' (DNB, 1927, p.279). He promulgated the view that syphilis is a specific fever like smallpox or measles. His skill lay in observation, and the accumulation and collation of clinical facts. However his deductions from them were not always convincing, such as his conclusion that leprosy was caused by the consumption of decaying fish. Even after the discovery of the lepra bacillus Hutchinson did not change his opinion, despite being in direct opposition to the rest of the medical profession.

In 1868 he helped to establish the pathological museum held in connection with the annual meetings of the British Medical Association (BMA). From 1869-70 Hutchinson edited the British Medical Journal. In 1874 he moved to larger premises at 15 Cavendish Square, next door to his famous medical colleague Sir Andrew Clark. He was President of the Section of Surgery of the BMA in 1876. In 1878 the first volume of his Illustrations of Clinical Surgery (1878-84) appeared, consisting of drawings, photographs, and diagrams illustrating diseases, symptoms, and injuries with full explanations. From 1879-95 he served on the council of the Royal College of Surgeons, and between 1879-83 was their Hunterian Professor of Surgery and Pathology. He served on the Royal Commission on Smallpox and Fever Cases in London Hospitals, in 1881. In 1882 he was elected fellow of the Royal Society.

In 1883 he left the active service of the London Hospital, and became emeritus professor of surgery at the Hospital's medical school. The Hutchinson triennial prize essay was established to commemorate his services to the Hospital. Hutchinson became president of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1889, and began the publication of his series Archives of Surgery (1889-1900), which was issued quarterly, and proved of interest to general practitioners, surgeons, physicians, and specialists. From 1890-96 he served on the Royal Commission on Vaccination. In 1891 he delivered the Hunterian Oration of the Royal College of Surgeons. In 1895 he published A Smaller Atlas of Illustrations of Clinical Surgery.

Over the years Hutchinson acquired a vast collection of specimens and watercolour drawings. He donated his collections and a large number of books and periodicals to the Medical Graduates' College and Polyclinic at 22 Chenies Street, founded in 1899. Hutchinson played a major part instigating the foundation of the College, and, along with others, gave courses of lectures and demonstrations, as well as free consultations for impoverished patients. These public consultations were popular and largely attended by general practitioners. He also assumed the editorship of the College's journal, The Polyclinic.

Hutchinson established an educational museum and library at his own expense at his country house in Haslemere, Surrey, which included an aviary and vivarium, where he spent much of his time with his childhood friend the eminent neurologist John Hughlings Jackson. Hutchinson gave lectures and demonstrations to the local community on scientific, literary and religious subjects at the weekends. Edward VII knew of him as `the surgeon who had a hospital for animals on his farm' (Plarr, 1930, p.590). Hutchinson established a similar museum in his native Selby, but this proved less popular.

In 1907 he moved to Gower Street, to be closer to the Graduates' College in Chenies Street. He was knighted in 1908 for his distinguished services to medicine. It is said that he refused an earlier offering of a peerage and had to be persuaded by friends to accept this knighthood. He received honorary degrees from the universities of Glasgow, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Oxford, Dublin, and Leeds, and was a corresponding member of the Societe de Chirurgie de Paris. At various times he held the presidency of several London medical societies, including the Royal Medical and Chirurgical, Pathological, Hunterian, Ophthalmological, Medical, and Neurological Societies.

Hutchinson had a large family, with six sons, four of who survived him, and four daughters. His wife died in 1886. Hutchinson died at his house in Haslemere, Surrey, on 26 June 1913. He was buried in Haslemere, with a tombstone that was inscribed on his orders, `A Man of Hope and Forward-Looking Mind'.

A Clinical Memoir on Certain Diseases of the Eye and Ear, Consequent on Inherited Syphilis (London, 1863)
A Descriptive Catalogue of the New Sydenham Society's Atlas of Portraits of Diseases of the Skin (London, 1869-75)
An Atlas of Illustrations of Pathology, Jonathan Hutchinson (ed.) (New Sydenham Society, London, 1877-1900)
Atlas of Skin Diseases, Jonathan Hutchinson (ed.) (New Sydenham Society, London, 1800s)
Illustrations of Clinical Surgery (2 Vols., London, 1878-88)
The Pedigree of Disease (1884)
Syphilis (London, 1887)
A Smaller Atlas of Illustrations of Clinical Surgery (1895)
Archives of Surgery (London, 1889-1900)
Atlas of Clinical Medicine, Surgery and Pathology, Jonathan Hutchinson (ed.) (New Sydenham Society, London, 1901-7)
Leprosy and Fish-Eating, A Statement of Facts and Explanations (1906)
A System of Syphilis; with an Introduction by Sir Jonathan Hutchinson, Sir D'Arcy Power, James Keogh Murphy & Sir Jonathan Hutchinson (London, 1908-10)
Retrospective Memoranda, by Sir Jonathan Hutchinson, and Subject Index and Index of Names compiled by Charles R. Hewitt (New Sydenham Society, London, 1911)
Neurological Fragments of J.H. Jackson; with Biographical Memoir by James Taylor, and including the Recollections of Sir Jonathan Hutchinson, and Charles Mercier, John Hughlings Jackson, James Taylor, Sir Jonathan Hutchinson, and Charles Arthur Mercier (London, 1925)

Publications by others about Hutchinson
The Life and Letters of Jonathan Hutchinson, Herbert Hutchinson (London, 1946)


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of Sir Jonathan Hutchinson, 1889-1906, consisting of his author's copy of Archives of Surgery (1889-1900), printed with annotations in his hand and interleaved with letters to him from practitioners whose patients' cases he describes.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

All requests should be referred to the Archivist

Finding aids:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Before deposit at the Royal College of Physicians, the collection had been given to Dr J.T. Ingram by Hutchinson's daughter Agnes, through the office of Dr A.E. Wales. After Ingram's acquisition of the collection it was for a time in the custody of the Library of the Leeds University School of Medicine.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited at the College by the British Association of Dermatology through Dr J.T. Ingram, 5 January 1965.

Allied Materials

Related material:

There is material relating to Hutchinson held elsewhere in the archives of the College, including a letter from Hutchinson to Horace Barlow regarding proof impressions of medical portraits published by Benjamin Ward Richardson, 1907 (MS2004/55); Sketch of Hutchinson in a newspaper cutting regarding speakers at the Sir Andrew Clark Memorial, 1895 (MS-ALLCW/714/24); 'Hutchinson's summer prurigo' (skin condition first described by Hutchinson) is referred to by Robert Harold Meara in his Parkes-Weber Lecture, 1979 (MS1038/2); There is also reference made to him in a letter amongst the Autographed Letters Collection (ALS);

Hutchinson's collection of clinical illustrations is held at the Institute of the History of Medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Hons Hopkins University, Baltimore.

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Sources: Plarr's Lives of the Fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, Vol. I, revised by Sir D'Arcy Power (Bristol, 1930), pp.588-91; Dictionary of National Biography, 1912-21, edited by H.W.C Davis & J.R.H. Weaver (London, 1927), [DNB, 1927, pp.279-80]; `Obituary - Sir Jonathan Hutchinson', British Medical Journal, Vol. I, 1913 [BMJ, 1913, pp.1398-1401]; `Obituary - Sir Jonathan Hutchinson', The Lancet, Vol. I, 1913, pp.1832-35; The Life and Letters of Jonathan Hutchinson, Herbert Hutchinson (London, 1946); `Sir Jonathan Hutchinson', Joseph V. Klauder, Medical Life, June 1934; `Sir Jonathan Hutchinson, 1828-1913', A.E. Wales, British Journal of Venereal Diseases, Vol. 39, No. 2, June 1963, pp.67-86; `Sir Jonathan Hutchinson, the Greatest 'Generalized Specialist' and his Contribution to Ophthalmology', Burton Chance, Archives of Ophthalmology, August 1935, Vol. 14, pp.203-228; Historical Manuscripts Commission On-Line National Register of Archives.
Compiled by Katharine Martin

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:
Compiled November 2003

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"