Papers of David Waldie, 1813-1889

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 1174 DWP
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      1 box Some of David Waldie's original letters are rather fragile; typescript copies are available.

Scope and Content

  • Letters from Waldie to the Abraham family of Liverpool 1851-1885. Most of the letters were written from India, and cover a wide range of subjects, including chemistry, industrial processes, chloroform anaesthesia, water purification, the Indian climate, geography, and vegetation, politics and the government of India, the Indian Mutiny, business, and personal matters.
  • Publications by David Waldie.
  • Papers re. Waldie's activities in India.
  • Correspondence and miscellaneous notes from Waldie's brothers, John Abraham, and others.
  • George Waldie's pamphlet on David Waldie.
  • Photographs 1870's-1950's
  • Articles and correspondence extracted from The Pharmaceutical Times.
  • Articles about David Waldie 1898-1958
  • Newspaper cuttings re. David Waldie 1911-1952
  • Professor Walter J. Dilling's papers re. David Waldie.
  • Correspondence re. the acquisition of Waldie's papers by the Liverpool Medical Institution.

Administrative / Biographical History

David Waldie was born in Linlithgow on 27 February 1813. He was educated at Linlithgow Grammar School, and then went to Edinburgh to study medicine, qualifying in 1831. He then practised as a surgeon and apothecary in Linlithgow for the next few years.

In 1839 or 1840 Waldie gave up medicine and moved to Liverpool, where hetook the post of Chemist to the Liverpool Apothecaries' Hall. Whilst in Liverpool Waldie first encountered chloroform, which he managed to produce in an improved, purer form. In the autumn of 1847 he suggested to James Young Simpson that chloroform might be suitable for use as an anaesthetic.

In 1853 Waldie emigrated to India, to take up a post as Chemist for a chemical works, Malcolm & Co, of Calcutta. Around 1860 Waldie established his own chemical works at Barnagore, Calcutta. In 1874 the company (D. Waldie&Co) was relocated to Kasipur, West Bengal. David Waldie died on 23 June 1889, and was buried in the Scottish Cemetery, Calcutta.


The papers have been arranged in 11 series. Within each series the arrangement is generally chronological.

Access Information

Open for consultation, by prior appointment.


Description compiled by R. Myring, with reference to David Waldie, L.R.C.S.(Edin.), The Prophet of the Anaesthetic Properties of Chloroform, by Walter J. Dilling, in The Liverpool Medico-Chirurgical Journal, 1934.

Other Finding Aids

Word-processed catalogue.

Alternative Form Available

Typescript copies of Waldie's letters have been made, and are also held at Liverpool Medical Institution.

Conditions Governing Use

Some of the correspondence etc. is believed to be in copyright. Most of the published material, newspaper cuttings etc. is probably out of copyright.

Custodial History

Waldie's letters to the Abraham family and other papers relating to Waldie were kept by Miss Emma Abraham until her death in 1934, when they were bequeathed to the Liverpool Medical Institution. More recent material relating to Waldie, which has been acquired since then, is believed to have been mostly donated by the late Professor Walter J. Dilling.

The David Waldie papers were catalogued in 2003, by R. Myring.


Some minor accruals may occur in the future.

Related Material

Not known.


Paper: David Waldie, L.R.C.S.(Edin.), The Prophet of the Anaesthetic Properties of Chloroform, by Walter J. Dilling, in The Liverpool Medico-Chirurgical Journal, 1934.

Paper: David Waldie- Facts and Fiction, by Dr. John W. Dundee, in Anaesthesia, October 1953.

Additional Information

Liverpool Medical Institution.