Bayliss Papers

Scope and Content

The papers consist of notes and notebooks of William Bayliss' experiments. There is also correspondence, press cuttings and photographs, a great part referring to the 'Brown Dog Affair' of 1903 and to other disputes between anti-vivisectionists and University College London.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Maddock Bayliss was born in Wolverhampton in 1860. He was apprenticed at Wolverhampton Hospital, in order to follow his interest in medicine, but did not complete the course there. Instead, in 1881, he entered University College London, where he came under the influence of Edwin Ray Lankester and John Burdon Sanderson. In 1885 he followed Burdon Sanderson to Wadham College, Oxford, where he gained first class honours in the school of natural science in 1888. After a short time teaching physiology at Oxford, he returned to University College London where he remained for the rest of his life. In 1912 a professorship of general physiology was created specially for him. He was for a long time a member of the Physiological Society, acting as secretary from 1900 to 1922 and treasurer from 1922 until his death in 1924. He became a member of the Royal Society in 1903 and was knighted in 1922. During his time at University College London, Bayliss studied electric currents in the salivary glands and collaborated with EH Starling on electric currents in the mammalian heart. He published on venous and capillary pressures in 1894 and innervation of the intestine in 1898-99. In 1902 he discovered secretin and he also studied the vascular system, enzyme action and the use of saline injections for the amelioration of surgical shock. His principal publications were 'The nature of enzyme action' (1908), 'Principles of general physiology' (1915) and 'The vaso-motor system' (1923). In 1893 he married Gertrude Ellen Starling, sister of EH Starling. They had three sons and one daughter. One of the sons was Leonard Ernest Bayliss.

Leonard Bayliss took his degree and PhD in physiology at Trinity College Cambridge, but spent most of his working life at University College London. From 1925 to 1933 he worked under Starling in the physiology department, then after some work in America and in Plymouth, he lectured in physiology at Edinburgh University. During the second world war he worked for the air force and in 1945 returned to University College. He retired in 1950 but continued as Hononary Research Assistant. In 1955 he wrote an account of the Brown Dog case from the point of view of the College, a version of which he later published in 'Potential' the journal of the University College Physiological Society (no.2, Spring 1957). He was married to a fellow physiologist, Dr Grace Eggleton.


The papers are arranged in the following sections: notebooks (Ref: A); scrap albums (Ref: B); other papers of W M Bayliss (Ref: C); dog stealing cases (Ref: D); papers of Leonard Bayliss (Ref: E).

Access Information


The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking.

Acquisition Information

Transferred from the Thane Library at University College London in 1977.

Other Finding Aids

Detailed catalogue is available online.

Conditions Governing Use

Normal copyright restrictions apply.