Notes of Lectures by Hunter & Saunders

Scope and Content

The manuscript consists of lectures on anatomy by William Hunter (1718-1783) and lectures on chemistry by William Saunders (1743-1817) and has the original pagination pp.1-403.

Hunter's lectures constitute pages 1-112 with 23 lectures in total, the contents of which are as follows: (1) introduction to, history of & division of anatomy, (2) the blood, (3) the arteries; (4) the veins; (5) the glands & secretion, (6) the nerves, (7) cellular membrane, (8) the muscles & the instruments of motion, (9) action of a muscle, (10) substance of bones, (11) characteristics of bones, (12) ligaments, (13) osteology, (14) the cranium [skull], (15) os ethnoids, (16) the trunk, (17) the thorax, (18) the pelvis, (19) the superior extremities, (20) the hand, (21) the leg, (22) diseases of the bones, (23) the teeth. Of these, lectures 1-12 are described as general lectures and then the more specific lectures begin.

pp.113-136 are blank and pp.137-192 contains a syllabus of lectures on chemistry by William Saunders, M.D., dated 1781. The syllabus divides the course into two chapters, each divided into separate sections and followed by a number of tables which are as follows:

  • Chapter One - Of the Objects of Chemistry (saline bodies, inflammable bodies, metallic substances, earthy bodies, watery bodies)
  • Chapter Two - Of the Operations of Chemistry (solutions, fusion, exhalation, application of fire)
  • Of the Chemical Properties of Bodies, Of Salts
  • A Table of Natural Salts
  • Of Inflammable Bodies
  • Of Metals
  • Of Earths
  • Of Water
  • Table of Elective Attractions
  • Table of Double Elective Attraction

Notes from a course of lectures on chemistry given by Saunders then begin on p.195, and adhere to the aforementioned syllabus. Their contents, according to an index in the rear, are as follows: utility of chemical knowledge; etymology & definition of chemistry; elements of bodies considered; chemical elements; division of chemistry; acids considered & defined; alkalines; compound salts, neutral, metallic & earthy; properties of inflammable bodies; general view of oils; sulphur; ardent spirits; metallic bodies defined; difference between metals & semimetals; definition & division of earths; class of bodies considered watery; different kinds of air; of the operations of chemistry; theories concerning chemical attraction; fluidity; different kinds of combination; singular & double elective attraction; effect of heat; solution; vessels employed in solutions; precipitation; fusion; general view of essaying metals; vessels employed in fusion; exhalation; evaporation; cementation; inflammation; spontaneous exhalation; cold generated during the evaporation of bodies; method of making extracts; distillation; sublimation; application of heat; structure of furnaces; chemical properties of salts & crystallization; chemical properties of vitriolic acid, nitrous acid, muriatic acid, vegetable acid, vinegar, tartarous acid, alkalines; effervescent occasioned by fixed air in alkalis; chemical properties of vegetable alkali, fossil alkali, volatile alkali, neutral salts, Glauber's salt, cubic nitre, common salt, digestive salt, ammonia salt, phlogiston, phosphorus, pyrophorus, essential oils, expressed oils, empyreumatic oils, fossil, sulphur, ardent spirits; fermentation considered; ether; chemical history of metals; separation from ores; chemical history of gold, silver, quick silver, lead, tin, copper, iron, semi-metals, zinc, bismuth, arsenic, platinum, cobalt, nickel, antimony, earthy bodies, absorbent earths, crystalline earths, argillaceous earths, talcy earths, water, rain & snow; method of analysing waters; chemical history of air, common, fixed & inflammable.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Saunders was born in Banff, Scotland in 1743 and was the son of physician, James Saunders. He undertook his medical education at the University of Edinburgh and received his MD in 1765 after submitting a thesis on antimony. The following year he established himself in practice in London and also began lecturing in chemistry at Red Lion Court and in materia medica at Guy's Hospital. He soon offered lectures in medicine as well and was the first physician in London to advertise clinical lectures. Many of Saunders' lectures were published and in addition to these he published papers on topics including the Peruvian bark, mercury, antimony, mephitic acid, and mineral waters.

With the influence of Sir George Baker (1722-1809) Saunders was elected physician to Guy's Hospital in 1770 and continued there until his resignation in 1802. He eventually became a governor at Guy's Hospital and also served as governor to St Thomas's Hospital. In 1807 he was appointed extra-physician to the prince regent. Saunders was a founder member and the first president of the Medical and Chirurgical Society in 1805 and was also a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (1790, having first been admitted a licentiate in 1769), the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1792), the Society of Antiquaries, and the Royal Society (1793). He gave the Royal College of Physician's Goulstonian Lectures in 1792 and the Harverian Oration in 1796.

Saunders retired from practice altogether in 1814 and relocated to Middlesex where he died on 29 May 1817.

See entry MMM/23/1/7 for biographical information about Hunter.


Norman Moore, 'Saunders, William (1743-1817)', rev. Jean Loudon, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, [, accessed 24 Jun 2016] William Munk, 'William Saunders', Munk's Roll Volume II, p.399.