James Home's Clinical Lectures

Scope and Content

The manuscript has the original pagination pp.1-282 and writing is on both the recto and the verso. An index is given in the rear listing the patients alphabetically by surname, with each one's date of admission and relevant page numbers.

The volume reads more like a case book than lecture notes as clinical lectures were a more practical form of teaching and were taught on the wards, in this case at Edinburgh Infirmary, using real cases to demonstrate common illnesses. On the flyleaf Windsor notes that 'Mr Davy and Mr Ball were Dr Home's clerks during the three months in which the following cases were taken, the former for the men's, the latter for the women's side'.

The men's and women's cases are mixed together throughout the volume and Windsor begins his notes on each new patient with their name, age, date of admission, occupation, and in the case of some women their marital status. He also tends to write the patient's primary medical complains, or diagnosis, in the margin at the beginning of their notes. A running account of the state of their condition during their stay is then given along with any treatments given or medicines prescribed.

Some of the diagnoses noted down include psora, quotidian intermittent, anasarca [oedema], diabetes, hysteria, ophthalmia, cynanche parotidea [mumps], rheumatism, variola disease [smallpox], catamenia, fever, pneumonia, catarrh, peripneumonia, gangrene, hemiplegia, oedema, hydrocardia, dyspepsia, icterus [jaundice], hepatitis, cynanche tonsillaris [pharyngitis], amenorrhoea, hydrothoracic diffusion, schirres pylori, epilepsy, ichthyosis, colic, enteritis, phthisis [tuberculosis, pulmonary], empyema, erysipelas, scarlatina [scarlet fever], spasms, chlorosis [hypochromic anaemia], and dropsy.

In some cases the patient's occupation is also recorded and a range of different individuals are seen with occupations including but not limited to weaver, labourer, servant, sailor, pottery painter, plasterer, scavenger, cartwright, chairman, wafer maker, lamplighter, hairdresser, manufacturer, dyer, shoemaker, paper maker, and wheelwright.

In the cases of patients that die, descriptions of dissections and post mortems are also given. In one particular case, of an 18 year old female patient Windsor draws a diagram of the patient's ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes with measurements of each as a result of a dissection, found on p.265.

The manuscript bears the bookplate of the Manchester Medical Society which indicates that it was donated to them on 25 March 1878 by Thomas Windsor, and further annotations show it to have been allocated the reference GO 4184 viz. the Society's 1890 library catalogue. The author has also made a note of his address at the time of writing as 'J Windsor at Mrs Steele's No.11 Roxburgh Place'.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Home was born in 1760 and was the son of Edinburgh University professor of materia medica, Francis Home (1710-1813). He studied medicine in the city and eventually succeeded his father to the professorship in 1798 and successfully increased attendance of materia medica classes. In 1821 Home was replaced by Andrew Duncan junior (1773-1832) as he instead chose to take on the chair of medicine which had become vacant following the death of James Gregory (1753-1821). Home's appointment was contested, partly owing to his political views, and in the end he was not seen to be very effective in the role. He continued teaching in this role up to his death on 5 December 1844. Home also served as President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1787.


G.T. Bettany, 'Home, James (1760-1844), rev. Claire L Nutt, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University press, 2004. [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/13645, accessed 24 June 2016]