Catalogue of Anatomical Preparations Belonging to J.A Ransome

Scope and Content

The manuscript contains two separate listings of anatomical preparations. The first is untitled and a contents page covers ff.1-23 and lists a total of 244 specimens. This list appears incomplete as the final few entries are written roughly in pencil. Folios 24-42 are blank and followed by a section entitled 'history of the preparations' containing more detailed descriptions on ff.43-63 of 34 of the specimens listed in the contents. Amongst these detailed descriptions is a description of the diseased os innominatum and femur once belonging to Betty Stincklin who was a patient at the Manchester Royal Infirmary. Accompanying it is a full page colour image of Stincklin when she was alive and with a severely diseased femur on f.49.

Folios 64-169 are blank and the second listing of anatomical preparations covers ff.170-1-86. This begins at the end of the manuscript and can be read when the volume is turned upside down and is entitled 'Catalogue of the anatomical preparations belonging to JA Ransome'. A total of 127 specimens are listed divided into the following 9 categories: skin & tela cellulosa; chylo-poietic viscera; organs of taste & mastication; pulmonary & circulatory organs; cerebral & nervous system; eye; ear; urinary & male organs of generation; and female organs of generation. None of these are described in any great detail.

Given the number of blank pages and the use of pencil at the end of some sections it appears the manuscript is incomplete. It is believed the catalogue belonged to and lists the preparations of John Atkinson Ransome (1779-1837). The volume bears the bookplate of Owens College which indicates that it was donated to them by the executors of the late Prof. W Smith. On the inside of the front cover there is also the label of E. Thomson, bookseller, 20 Market Street, Manchester, which refers to Ebenezer Thomson (fl. 1810-1827).

Administrative / Biographical History

John Atkinson Ransome was born on 4 March 1779 in Norwich, the son of Thomas Ransome, a bank manager. He began his medical education apprenticed to a surgeon in King's Lynn before moving to London where he studied under Sir Astley Cooper at Guy's Hospital. On completion of his training he tried unsuccessfully to establish himself in private practice in Suffolk but then relocated to Manchester to take up the role of Honorary Surgeon to the Manchester Royal Infirmary in 1806. Once settled in Manchester Ransome soon began teaching, firstly lecturing on anatomy and physiology at the Literary and Philosophical Society alongside James Ainsworth before joining Thomas Turner's newly opened Pine Street Medical School in 1825 where he lectured on surgery.

Ransome ran a successful private practice and was held in very high regard as a surgeon and operator. He was the first in Manchester to suggest the idea of using catgut for tying arteries and was also a talented draughtsman and illustrator. He is particularly noted for having treated William Huskisson, the MP killed at the opening of the Manchester and Liverpool Railway on 15 September 1830 when he was run over by George Stephenson's Rocket. It is Ransome's report of this incident that constitutes his only known contribution to medical literature, and was published in the North of England Medical and Surgical Journal.

Ransome died on 10 February 1837 at his home in Old Trafford and was buried behind the meeting house of the Society of Friends on Mount Street. He was the father of surgeon Joseph Atkinson Ransome (1805-1867) and the grandfather of surgeon Arthur Ransome (1834-1922).