Papers of Professor Thomas Laycock (1812-1876)

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 237 Coll-410
  • Dates of Creation
      19th century
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      10 letters, 1 volume, 1 box.
  • Location
      Dc.2.58; Gen. 1813; Gen. 1960; Mic.M.82; Phot.Ill.90

Scope and Content

The collection is composed of: papers; a journal from 1833 to 1857 including time spent in London as a medical student; letters to D. R. Hay with a copy of one letter from Hay relating to the Aesthetic Club; and, illustrations of Laycock.

Administrative / Biographical History

Thomas Laycock was born in Wetherby, Yorkshire, on 10 August 1812. He was educated at the Wesleyan Academy, Woodhouse Grove, Yorkshire, and studied at University College London. He also studied abroad in Paris and Götttingen. His early works were The acid and alkaline reactions of the saliva (1837), and A treatise on the nervous diseases of women, comprising an inquiry into the nature, causes, and treatment of spinal and hysterical disorders (1840). In a paper submitted before the British Association in 1844, Laycock was the first to formulate the theory of the reflex action of the brain. In 1846 he was appointed Lecturer in Clinical Medicine at the York School of Medicine, and in 1855 he became Professor of the Practice of Medicine at Edinburgh University. It was in Edinburgh that he published Mind and brain, or the correlations of consciousness and organisations, with their applications to philosophy, mental pathology, and the practice of medicine (1859). He also published Lectures on the principles and methods of medical observation and research (1856), and The social and political relations of drunkenness (1857). Professor Thomas Laycock died in Edinburgh on 21 September 1876.

Access Information

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

Acquisition Information

Papers acquired June 1974, Accession no. E74.42.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol.11. Kennett-Lluelyn. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1909. (2) Cooper, Thompson. Men of the time: a dictionary of contemporaries containing biographical notes of eminent characters of both sexes. 9th edition. p.632. London: George Routledge and Sons, 1875.

Although its content was not drawn upon, see also: Barfoot, Michael. (ed.). 'To ask the Suffrages of the Patrons' Thomas Laycock and the Edinburgh Chair of Medicine. Medical History, Supplement No.15. London: Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, 1995.

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 another reference to Laycock related material (check the Indexes for more details): a letter about a bas relief portrait of Laycock, from D. Waterston to the Secretary, Royal College of Physicians, 1940, at Gen. 784/9/30. In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes: diary, lecture notes and papers, circa 1850-1876, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Ref. Laycock NRA 16015 Coll of Physicians; correspondence with Sir Edwin Chadwick, 1843-1857, London University, University College London (UCL) Manuscripts Room, Ref. CHADWICK] NRA 21653 Chadwick; and, correspondence with George Combe, 1848-1858, National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division, Ref. MSS 7302-7393 Passim.