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Hunter, William (1718-1783)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0114 MS0204
Held at: Royal College of Surgeons of England
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Full title: Hunter, William (1718-1783)
Date(s): Mid to late 18th century
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 20 volumes
Name of creator(s): Hunter | William | 1718-1783 | anatomist and surgeon


Administrative/Biographical history:

William Hunter was born in Long Calderwood, Lanarkshire, Scotland, in 1718. Intended for the church, he attended the University of Glasgow from 1731-1736 where he was exposed to the philosophical teachings of Francis Hutcheson which turned him against the rigid dogmas of Presbyterian theology. An acquaintance with the physician William Cullen (1710-1790) interested him in the medical profession, and he studied with Cullen for three years. Eager to widen his experience, he went to London in 1741 where he worked as an assistant to William Smellie MD (1697-1763) and then from 1741-1742 with James Douglas, both of whom fostered his interest in obstetrics and gynaecology. Between 1741-1749 he was tutor to William George Douglas. In 1750 he was awarded an MD by the University of Glasgow. In 1749 he was appointed as a surgeon at Middlesex Hospital, England, before transferring for a brief time to the British Lying-in Hospital. He was particularly interested in obstetrics and in 1762 was called to attend Queen Charlotte on the birth of her first child. Two years later, he was appointed as Physician Extraordinary to Queen Charlotte and rapidly became the most sought after physician in London. His research, embodied in his Anatomical Description of the Human Gravid Uterus (1774) and his practical example, including the establishment of specialist training for both physicians and midwives, did much to establish obstetrics as a respectable branch of medicine for the first time, though he took a perverse pleasure in continuing to describe himself as a despised 'man-midwife'. He died in 1783.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of William Hunter, mid to late 18th century, comprising notes taken by unidentified authors, of lectures by William Hunter; and notes taken by unidentified authors, of lectures by William Hunter and William Hewson, c 1772.

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:

Catalogue of Manuscripts in the Library of the Royal College of Surgeons of England (1928) by Victor G Plarr.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Donated from various sources. Please see individual descriptions for details.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Manuscripts relating to William Hunter in the Hunter-Baillie papers (MS0014); Photographs of William Hunter's birthplace at Long Calderwood in the John Hunter papers (MS0189/4); Notes of William Hunter's lectures in the papers of John Heaviside (MS0013); Notes of William Hunter's lectures in the collection of lecture notes taken by William Allison (MS0205); Notes of William Hunter's lectures by David Saunders-Davies (MS0206); Notes of William Hunter's lectures taken by Henry Gore Clough (MS0207); and various items relating to William Hunter in the Hunter Family Album (MS0253).

The main archive repository for William Hunter manuscripts is the University of Glasgow Library. The papers in the University of Glasgow Library were originally in the Hunterian Museum, Glasgow.

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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