Pott's Lectures on the Operations of Surgery

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 MMM/15/2/6
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      1 volume New binding, 1946

Scope and Content

The lecture notes are set out across 167 folios, having writing on both the recto and verso, with the original pagination pp.1-333 and an additional 5 folios at the end containing the index and 4 at the beginning with the title etc. Although not indicated on the manuscript itself we know the volume to have been allocated the reference Q 1023 viz. the Manchester Medical Society's 1890 library catalogue. The first page bears the inscription 'James Barlow, chirurgus, Blackburn'.

The index in the rear indicates that the following subjects are dealt with in the manuscript: introduction, tumours [neoplasms], erysipelas, oedema, scirrhous tumour, wounds, contus'd wounds [contusions], simple fractures, compound fractures [fractures, open], wounds of the scalp, injuries of the dura mater, fractures of the cranium [skull], perforating the cranium, extravasation of fluids, commotion of the brain and caries of the skull, fistula lachrymalis [lacrimal fistula], cataract, polypus narium [nasal polyps], hare-lip [cleft lip], diseases of the thorax, scirrhous and cancerous breasts [breast neoplasms], hydrops thoracis & empyema, wounds of the abdomen, dropsy & operation of the paracentesis, diseases of the bladder, symptoms of the stone in the bladder, sounding, lithotomy, lateral operation, diseases of the urethra, diseases of the anus, aneurysm, and amputations.

Administrative / Biographical History

Percivall Pott was born on 6 January 1714 in Threadneedle Street, London, the son of Percivall Pott (1681-1717) and Elizabeth Symonds (d.1745). At the age of seven Pott began to attend a private school in Kent and strong interest in surgery saw him apprenticed to the then assistant surgeon to St Bartholomew's Hospital, Edward Nourse. As his apprentice it was Pott's responsibility to prepare dissections for demonstration in Nourse's surgery and anatomy lectures. In 1736 he was admitted to the Barber-Surgeons' Company, which gave him license to practice, and in 1745 became assistant surgeon to St Bartholomew's Hospital, where he gained invaluable and extensive clinical experience. Just four years later in 1749 he was made a full surgeon at St Bartholomew's and held the appointment until 1787. It was during this period that he began lecturing from his new residence in Watling Street and in 1753 alongside William Hunter was elected to be the first lecturer in anatomy at the newly formed Company of Surgeons, later the Royal College of Surgeons. He had a reputation as a skilled and proficient lecturer and in time he became a member of the court of examiners (1763) and a master of the company (1765).

Pott published as number of works during his career, which tended to be single subject studies and included A Treatise on Ruptures (1756), Observations on the Nature and Consequences of Wounds and Contusions of the Head and Fractures of the Skull etc. (1760), A Treatise on Fistula in Ano (1765), and Fractures and Dislocations (1768). He lends his name to a form of tuberculosis of the spine, known as Pott's disease, which he was the first to describe as well as a fracture of the lower end of the fibula, known as Pott's fracture. Another eponymous condition is Pott's puffy tumour, which is characterised by an osteomyelitis of the frontal bones. Pott also made the first occupational links to cancer by recognising the high association between exposure to soot and incidences of scrotal cancer in chimney sweeps.

Pott had married Sarah Cruttenden in 1746, with whom he had five sons and four daughters. He died on 22 December 1788 at his house in Hanover Square from what is suspected to have been pneumonia.


John Kirkup, 'Pott, Percivall (1714-1788)' Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Oxford University Press, 2004. Venita Jay, 'Percivall Pott' Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine 1999 123(1) p.10.