Records of the Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow, Scotland

Scope and Content

Several hundred documents, including some bound volumes, relating to William Hunter's museum and library. These records include catalogues compiled by Hunter himself and those by his immediate trustees - George Fordyce, David Pitcairn and Charles Combe - recording what was handed over to Baillie in 1783. But the majority of the records deal with the administration of Hunter's collections after their arrival in Glasgow in 1807 until 1945 - later catalogues, minutes of meetings of the trustees, lists of visitors, correspondence relating to the collections and donations of additional material.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Hunter was born at Long Calderwood Farm, East Kilbride, near Glasgow, Scotland, in 1718 . He came as a student to the University of Glasgow in 1731  and later studied medicine at Edinburgh, before going to London in 1741 . Hunter quickly became well-known as a physician, especially as an obstetrician, and built up a distinguished clientle, including members of the British Royal Family. He soon assembled a collection of anatomical and pathological specimens, related to his medical work. In the 1750s  he began collecting art and later diversified into coins, books, manuscripts and ethnography. In 1768 he opened a medical school at his house in Great Windmill Street, Glasgow. In 1783  Hunter bequeathed his entire collection to Glasgow University, along with funds to construct a suitable Museum building. Under the terms of his will, however, his collections of books, manuscripts, coins, medals, paintings, shells, minerals, and anatomical and natural history specimens were retained in London until 1807 for the use of his nephew Matthew Baillie (1761-1823). The Hunterian Museum was subsequently built on the grounds of the University of Glasgow, which lay then on Glasgow's High Street and opened to the public in 1807 . It is thus the oldest public museum in Scotland. In 1870  the Museum was transferred, along with the rest of the University, to its present home at Gilmorehill in the western suburbs of the city.


The arrangement of this material reflects the original order in which it was received

Access Information

private records deposited by the owners


Acquisition Information

Transferred : January 1979 : ACCN 4593

Gift : March 1970 : ACCN 4220 (MR 47/29 only)

Purchase : April 1984 : ACCN 4637 (MR 58 only)

Other Finding Aids

Item level descriptions are available via the department's online manuscripts catalogue available at

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Archivist's Note

This material is original

Compiled by Jenny Bunn, 21 January 2000

Revised by David Powell, Hub Project Archivist, 5 March 2002

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Head of Special Collections

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use & condition of documents

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 247 procedures

Custodial History

Held by the Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow


None expected

Related Material

GB 248 Hunt: Hunterian Museum Collection contains further administrative records of the Hunterian Museum (Glasgow University Archive Services)


No known publications using this material

Geographical Names