Travers' Lectures on Diseases of the Eye and Young's Lectures on Midwifery

  • Reference
      GB 133 MMM/14/2/7
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      1 volume, 186 folios Both boards have come away

Scope and Content

Formerly part of the Radford Library, Saint Mary's Hospital, Manchester, where it was allocated the reference Q 125 in their 1877 catalogue. It has since been allocated the reference O6 T10 as part of an alternative system. The label of E. Cox & Son, booksellers, St Thomas's Street, Borough can be found in the inside cover. Travers' lectures constitute ff.1-66r and bear the original pagination pp.1-118, and Young's lectures constitute ff.66v-186 with no pagination.

A note added to the front of the volume in Thomas Radford's hand explains that these notes were taken from the only course of lectures ever given by Benjamin Travers at St Thomas's Hospital and that whilst the language spoken was most elegant and the matter most practical it was painful for the audience to watch the great nervous excitement and agitation of Travers. He also notes that the rest of the notes in the manuscript from Thomas Young's Lectures on midwifery given at Edinburgh.

Each of Travers' lectures are individually numbered and the topics covered are as follows: (1) on inflammation, (2) strumous inflammation, (3) treatment of suppurative inflammation of the conjunctiva, (4) pterygium, (5) treatment of ulcer of the cornea, (6) on inflammation of the choroid coat and iris, (7) pages left blank, (8) inflammation of the retina, (9) sympathetic amaurosis [blindness], (10) carcinoma.

Young's lectures begin on 5 November 1770 and are described as the third course. It is clear where each new lecture begins and whilst they are not always numbered the date is usually given. An index at the beginning of the notes lists the contents as such: general observations, progress, authors, female pelvis, dimensions of child's head, difference of the pelves of each sex, deformed female pelvis, female parts of generation, external parts, internal organs, diseases of the external parts, lithotomy in women & sounding, signs of still born, congenital hernia of the foetus, difference between impregnated and unimpregnated uterus, touch, time of pregnancy gone, connection between mother and foetus, connection of placenta with uterus, use of placenta, menstrual flux, chlorosis [hypochromic anaemia], immoderate catamenia, symptoms of pregnancy, diseases of pregnancy, vomiting, headache, suppression of urine, oedematous legs, palsies, floodings, causes of abortion, effects of imagination, twins, practical midwifery, symptoms of labours, true & false pains, treatment of natural labour, extraction of the placenta, principal presentations of the child, forceps [surgical instruments], crotchet, preternatural labours [breech presentation], caesarean, children presenting double, accidental circumstances, moles, different systems of generation, and symptoms of a dead child in utero and in time of labour.

Administrative / Biographical History

Benjamin Travers was born on 3 April 1783 the son of Benjamin Travers and Mary Spilsbury. He began his medical education in 1800 with a 6 year apprenticeship to Sir Astley Cooper and during the final year of this apprenticeship began giving private anatomy demonstrations to fellow pupils and also established a clinical society. In 1806 he was admitted a member of the Royal College of Surgeons at which point he went to Edinburgh to pursue his studies further. Travers returned to London in late 1807 and was appointed demonstrator of anatomy at Guy's Hospital. From 1809 to 1814 he held the post of surgeon to the East India Company's warehouses and brigade, a role he obtained in response to his father's failing business.

In 1810 Travers succeeded Cooper as surgeon to the London Infirmary for Diseases of the Eye (later the London Ophthalmic Hospital and the Moorfields Eye Hospital). 1813 saw him elected FRS and in 1815 he was appointed surgeon to St Thomas's Hospital. His private practice expanded considerably in 1816 when he took over Cooper's house in Old Broad Street and subsequently acquired a large portion of his patients. Ill-health around this time saw Travers discontinue his clinical lectures and also in 1819 resign his joint lectureship on surgery with Astley Cooper. He resumed surgical lectures in 1834 alongside Frederick Tyrell at St Thomas's Hospital.

During his career he served as president of the Medico-Chirurgical Society and occupied many of the offices associated with the Royal College of Surgeons. He was also appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria and Surgeon in Ordinary to Prince Albert. His publication were numerous and included published version of some of his lectures as well as works on the eye, venereal affections, and the nervous system.

Travers died on 6 March 1858 as a result of heart disease. He had been married three times and had a large family, but only his eldest son, Benjamin Travers, followed him into the medical profession.

See entry MMM/1/4 for further biographical information about Thomas Young.


D'A. Power, 'Traver, Benjamin (1783-1858)', rev. Anita McConnell, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. 'Death of Benjamin travers, Esq., F.R.S.', The Lancet 1858, 71(1802), pp.278-9.