Papers of Professor John Lizars (c. 1787-1860)

Scope and Content

The material consists of notes of lectures taken down by John Lizars at Edinburgh University, 1807-1808, and a letter about the sixth edition of his treatise on tobacco believed to 'stagger Smokers of the pernicious weed', 1856.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Lizars was born in Edinburgh around 1787. He was the son of a publisher and engraver in the city, Daniel Lizars (died 1812), and brother of William Home Lizars (1788-1859). He was educated at the Royal High School and studied at Edinburgh University. After obtaining his medical diploma in 1810, he served as a naval surgeon seeing active service during the Peninsular War. He returned to Edinburgh in 1815 and was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. Lizars became successful in a surgical partnership in the city and then as a teacher of anatomy and surgery, and in 1831 he was appointed to the Chair of Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons. His appointment was combined with that of a senior operating surgeon at the Royal Infirmary where Robert Liston (1794-1847) was a colleague. His publications include A system of anatomical plates of the human body, accompanied with descriptions, and physiological, pathological, and surgical observations (1822), Observations on extraction of diseased ovaria (1835), and a System of practical surgery, with numerous explanatory plates, the drawings after nature (1835). These were used very extensively by nineteenth century medical students. Lizars also contributed to the major medical journals of the day. Professor John Lizars died on 21 May 1860.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

Letter purchased March 1983, Accession no. E83.20.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol. 11. Kennett-Lluelyn. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1909.

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

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

The local Indexes show a reference to Lizars related material in the Laing Collection (check the Indexes for more details): mention of the publication of Lizars's Anatomical plates of the human body in letters of D. Lizars and W. H. Lizars to S. Highley, a bookseller in London, at La.II.426/293-295. Lizars is also mentioned in letters of George Cook to Sir W. Jardine as a favoured candidate for the Chair of Anatomy and medicine at St. Andrews University, 1840, at Dk.6.20/52-53. In addition, at Da., there is an anatomy class-list, 1852-53.

There is a reference to Daniel Lizars, publisher father of John Lizars: mention of his new newspaper in a letter, 1830, at Dk.6.20/125.

For Lizars's brother William Home Lizars there are references to: sketches of the College, 1823, at E89.93; an invitation to an unnamed to attend funeral of D. Lizars, 1812, at La.II.316; letters to Sir W. Jardine about plates for illustrations, Dk.6.20/207-209; letters, 1838-1840, at Dk.6.20/45, 65, 134, 149, 197; and, mentions in letters 1829-1841, at Dk.6.20/98, 122, 125-126, 161-186.

In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes: lecture notes and anatomical drawings, 1820-1835, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Ref. Lizars NRA 16015 Coll of Physicians