Papers of Professor George Wilson (1818-1859)

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 237 Coll-534
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      7 letters Access to records in a fragile condition may be restricted. Small portrait said to be 3 inches x 2.5 inches.
  • Location
      Dc.2.58-59; Dc.3.99/10; Gen. 1732 Wilson; E2001.06; Phot.Ill.66/2

Scope and Content

The collection is composed of: a letter to an unnamed correspondent thanking him for a reference to The five gateways of knowledge, with photograph of unidentified man on reverse, 1856; letter to R. Hunt, 1850; letters to Mr. Cunningham and to Dr. Balfour, 1852, 1853; letters to D. R. Hay of the Aesthetic Club; letter to David Forbes, 1850; and, small portrait with specimen of writing

Administrative / Biographical History

George Wilson was born in Edinburgh in 1818. He was the younger brother of Sir Daniel Wilson (1816-1892). He was educated at the city's Royal High School. After leaving school he later on, in 1838, became a laboratory assistant to Dr. Thomas Graham (1805-1869) at the University College, London. He took his M.D. at Edinburgh University in 1839 and was qualified by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. Wilson then became an extra-mural lecturer on chemistry. He also owned a congregational church belonging to an independent section. In 1855 he became Regius Professor of Technology at Edinburgh University and also Director of the Scottish Industrial Museum (now known as the Royal Scottish Museum, Chambers Street). His publications include Life of Henry Cavendish (1851), Researches on colour-blindedness (1855), and The five gateways of knowledge (1856). He also wrote on religious subjects. Professor George Wilson died in 1859.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

Cunningham and Balfour letters, purchased among other material, March 1970, Accession no. E70.11. The five gateways letter, purchased among other material, February 1979, Accession no. E79.14. Forbes letter, purchase January 2001, Accession no. E2001.06.


Note that when this record was created any associated photographic/illustrative was unseen.

The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) The dictionary of national biography. The concise dictionary. Part 1. From the beginnings to 1900. Reprinted. London: Oxford University Press, 1953.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

The local Indexes show references to Wilson related material in the Laing Collection and elsewhere (check the Indexes for more details): letter to D. Laing mentioning his brother, Sir D. Wilson, 1858, at La.IV.17; letter to Sir A. Geikie, 1857, at Gen. 526; letters from Lord Jeffrey, 1847-1849, at Dk.6.23/1; mention of Wilson in a letter of T. Cunningham 1856, at Dk.7.46/93

Professor George Wilson was the brother of Sir Daniel Wilson (1816-1892) and the description of the collection of Edinburgh sketches by Sir Daniel Wilson held at Edinburgh University Library can be viewed on the Archives Hub.

In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes: correspondence with Macmillans, 1838-1858, British Library, Manuscript Collections, Ref. Add MS 55089.

Corporate Names