Lectures on Animal Œconomy by John Allen

  • Reference
      GB 133 Eng MS 1414
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      252 x 205 mm. 1 volume. [ii] + 329 + [x] folios, foliated 1-329; text on rectos only. Medium: paper. Binding: quarter calf over marbled boards. Condition: the sewing cords have disintegrated, causing the text block to break down into numerous sections and individual leaves; both boards are also detached.
  • Location
      Collection available at The John Rylands Library, Deansgate.

Scope and Content

Notes on 'Lectures on the Animal Œconomy, by Mr. John Allen - Edinburgh, 1795,6'. These detailed notes on John Allen's Edinburgh physiology lectures were probably compiled by William Henry, who was a medical student at the university. The contents are as follows:

f. 5, Cellular substance; f. 39, The blood; f. 42, Serum and albumen; f. 61, The secretions; f. 104, General doctrine of secretion; f. 115, Vegetable aliment; f. 153, Absorption; f. 169, Respiration; f. 196, Perspiration; f. 202, Combustible matter of the blood; f. 206, Effects of respiration on the irritability of the muscular fibre; f. 218, Animal temperature; f. 235, Incubation; f. 253, Nervous system; f. 259, Vision; f. 288, Motion of the iris; f. 291, Heat and cold; f. 293, Touch; f. 296, Hearing; f. 303, Nature of the nervous power; f. 320, Influence of the vascular on the nervous system; f. 322, Appendix no. 1: account of Dr [William] Austin's experiments on the heavy inflammable air.

Enclosed inside the front cover is a booklet containing a manuscript 'Index of Dr Allens's Lectures'.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Allen (1771-1843), political and historical writer, was born at Redford near Edinburgh, and after an apprenticeship with an Edinburgh surgeon he studied medicine at the University. To supplement his income he lectured on medical subjects, and he published a translation of the introduction to Georges Cuvier's Leçons d'anatomie comparée, under the title Introduction to the Study of the Animal Economy (Edinburgh: printed for Ross and Blackwood, 1801).

In 1801-5 Allen accompanied Lord Holland on an extended tour abroad, and he continued to enjoy Holland's patronage for several years afterwards. He wrote extensively for the Edinburgh Review, but is best known for an Inquiry into the Rise and Growth of the Royal Prerogative in England (1830). He served as warden of Dulwich College from 1811 to 1820, and was master from 1820 until his death in 1843.

Source: W.P. Courtney, 'Allen, John (1771-1843)', rev. H.C.G. Matthew, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004); online edn, Jan 2008.

William Henry (1774-1836), chemist, was the son of Thomas Henry, an apothecary and chemist in Manchester. He studied medicine and chemistry at Edinburgh University, and took his MD in 1807 with a dissertation on uric acid. He spent much of his career engaged in chemical work; in 1801 he published his Epitome of Chemistry, based upon a series of lectures delivered in 1798-99; in 1803 he communicated to the Royal Society his work on the absorption of gases by water; and in 1804 he stated Henry's law: 'at a given temperature water dissolves the same volume of a compressed gas as of that gas under normal pressure'. He was awarded the Copley Medal by the Royal Society in 1808, he was elected FRS the following year. He also undertook research on coal gas and several other kinds of illuminating gas: work of significant commercial and social value. Henry was a member of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society and played a leading role in the intellectual life of the city during a period of rapid growth and industrialization.

William Henry was a physician at Manchester Royal Infirmary from 1808 to 1817. Although he was always more interested in chemistry, he undertook researches into combating contagious diseases. At the height of the cholera epidemics of the 1830s he experimented on the heating of infected clothing. He shot himself in 1836 and was buried at Cross Street Unitarian Chapel, Manchester.

Source: Frank Greenaway, 'Henry, William (1774-1836)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004); online edn, Oct 2007.

Access Information

The manuscript is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

According to the presentation bookplate, the manuscript was presented to Owens College (later the University of Manchester) by Dr Charles Henry on 4 March 1851. Formerly University MSS AN A91.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the manuscript can be supplied for private research and study purposes only, depending on the condition of the manuscript.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the manuscript. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, The John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

The notes were probably compiled by William Henry and were certainly owned by him; his inscription appears on the flyleaf. The volume then passed to his eldest son, (William) Charles Henry (1804-92), FRS, physician and chemist.


W.P. Courtney, 'Allen, John (1771-1843)', rev. H.C.G. Matthew, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004); online edn, Jan 2008: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/383, accessed 18 Jan 2013.

Frank Greenaway, 'Henry, William (1774-1836)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004); online edn, Oct 2007: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/55933, accessed 18 Jan 2013.