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Notes of lectures given by William Saunders

Identifier: Coll-1281

Scope and Contents

The notes taken down into this small bound pocket note-book of 131 handwritten pages are believed to have formed part of the Guy's lecture series - 'Elements in the Practice of Physic'. One of the early pages bears the inscription 'John Bethell, Lincoln's Inn Field' but it isn't clear if this was the same individual who took the notes or someone who subsequently owned them.

The volume may be particularly important in that the contents significantly pre-date - when compared - the first edition of the published version of Saunders' lectures in 1780. Based upon differing formulations for remedies included in the notes and changes in topics covered, it is believed that the notes may have been taken down circa 1775 or possibly earlier. They are believed to pre-date the manuscript lecture notes held at the Wellcome Library (1780-1782) and the Heritage Library of the Royal College of Physicians (1782). Other Saunders' lecture notes at the Royal College of Surgeons were taken down in 1784, and those at the Royal Society of Medicine dating from 1795.

Section headings and formulations for remedies contained in 'Elements in the Practice of Physic' include: Of the Inflammatory Fever; Of the Nervous Fever; Of Intermittent Fevers; Of the Malignant Angina; Of the Inflammation of the Intestines; Of the Rheumatism; Of the Measles; Of the Dropsy; Of Indigestion; Of the Epilepsy; Of the Tetanus; Of Insanity; Of Women During the Time They Are With Child and After Delivery; and, Diseases of Young Children.


  • Creation: 1774-1776

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Conditions Governing Access

Open to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance of any visit.

Biographical / Historical

William Saunders was born in Banff in 1743 and was a graduate of Edinburgh Medical School, studying under Cullen, and became a key figure in the history of medicine in the late-18th century. After graduation with the degree of MD - thesis De Antimonio in 1765 he moved to London to work for Sir George Baker (1722-1809) focussing at first on chemical investigations into 'Devonshire Colic'. He would reveal that the condition was caused by the presence of lead in the cider manufacturing process. In 1770 Baker recommended the appointment of Saunders to lecture at the newly formed medical school at Guy's, London. There he delivered the institution's first programme of lectures on the theory and practice of medicine. He remained at Guy's until 1802, and in 1807 he became physician to the Prince Regent.

William Saunders retired from practice in 1814, and he died on 29 May 1817 at Enfield.


1 volume

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Material acquired August 2010. Accession no: E2010.35

Related Materials

Within Special Collections, Edinburgh University Library, there is also a bound volume of Dr. Saunders's Clinical Lectures taken down possibly by Nicholas Willett Chavasse (born c.1763), at Guy's Hospital and in St. Thomas's Hospital, 1782-1783, shelved at Dk.5.2.

Processing Information

Compiled by Graeme D. Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections.

Material relating to William Saunders (1743-1817)
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
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Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
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