Papers of: Clover, Joseph Thomas (1825-1882)

Scope and Content

Material relating to the use of nitrus oxide, chloroform and ether, mostly notes, including some on an operation carried out on Napolean III, and notes for lectures given by Clover. There is some personal material relating to Clover's education, including some family correspondence.

Administrative / Biographical History

Joseph Thomas Clover was born at Aylsham, Norfolk in 1825. After leaving Grey Friars Priory School he worked as an apprentice to a surgeon, and became a dresser at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital in 1842. In 1844 he entered University College Hospital as Physician's Assistant and House Surgeon to Thomas Morton and James Syme. In August 1848 he was appointed Resident Medical Officer. He may have been present at the first major operation in England to use an anaesthetic, when, in December 1846, Robert Liston amputated a patient's thigh using open ether. Clover spent the rest of his life studying and experimenting with the administration of anaesthetics, inventing several pieces of equipment for this purpose. He became a lecturer in anaesthetics at University College Hospital and an administrator of anasethetics at the Dental Hospital, positions he held at the time of his death on 27 September 1882. He was survived by his wife, Mary Anne (ne? Hall) and four children.


MSS.1684-1694 comprises material relating the use of nitrus oxide, chloroform and ether, mainly notes and lectures given by Clover. The papers include notes on his experiments, cases of an anaesthetic being administered to patients and notes on the apparatus he designed for the purpose. MSS. 6942-6951 comprises material relating to Clover's education and some personal correspondence.

Access Information

The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking.

Acquisition Information

MSS. 1684-1694 from the Dudley Buxton Collection, presented 1935 (acc.79763); MSS.6942-6951 presented by Lady MacIntosh, 1992, from the collection of Sir Robert Reynolds MacIntosh (1897-1989), who acquired the papers from Nancy Laura Clover (d.1968), granddaughter of the anaesthetist. Transferred from the Contemporary Medical Archives Centre, October 1992 (acc. 349049).

Other Finding Aids

Described in: S.A.J. Moorat, Catalogue of Western Manuscripts on Medicine and Science in the Wellcome Historical Medical Library (London: Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, 1962-1973) and Richard Palmer, Catalogue of Western Manuscripts in the Wellcome Library for the History & Understanding of Medicine: Western Manuscripts 5120-6244 (London: The Wellcome Library for the History & Understanding of Medicine, 1999) and subsequent typescript supplementary finding aids by Richard Aspin, Christopher Hilton, Keith Moore and Richard Palmer.

Archivist's Note

description compiled by Annie Lindsay based upon those in the Library's published finding aids by S.A.J. Moorat and Richard Palmer and Plarr's Lives of the Fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons of England (London : Royal College of Surgeons of England, 1995).

Separated Material

Material held elsewhere: Oxford University, Nuffield College Library: medical notebooks; University of British Columbia, Woodward Biomedical Library: correspondence and papers, c.1840-1982.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies/photographs/microfilm are supplied for private research only at the Archivist's discretion. Please note that material may be unsuitable for copying on conservation grounds, and that photographs cannot be photocopied in any circumstances. Readers are restricted to 100 photocopies in twelve months. Researchers who wish to publish material must seek copyright permission from the copyright owner.

Related Material

Material held by Archives and Manuscripts, Wellcome Library: Buxton, Dudley Wilmot (1855-1931) (MSS.1423-1426, MS.5461); Dick-Read, Grantly (1890-1959) (PP/GDR); Macintosh, Sir Robert, FRCSE,FFARCS (1897-1989) (PP/RRM, MS.8225); British Medical Association (SA/BMA); Medical Women's Federation (f.1916) (SA/MWF); Cooke, Arthur, MB, BCh, FRCS (1869-1933) (GC/39); University Of London Audio-visual Centre (GC/170); Scharlieb, (later Shirley) Herbert J, CMG, MD, FRCS (1868-1943) (GC/190); Hall, 'Sam' Vernon F, CVO (1904-1998) (GC/203); Stout, Robert James (b.1917), FRCS (GC/226); Travelling Surgical Society (f.1924) (SA/TSS); Axham, Frederick William, MRCS, LRCP (1840-1926) (MS. 7845); Hickman, Henry Hill MRCS (1800-1830) (MS.7625); Franklin , Alfred White (1905-1984) (MSS. 5639-5641).