Sharpey Correspondence

Scope and Content

The collection consists of letters, most of which are addressed to William Sharpey as Secretary of the Royal Society. The main correspondents are Sir Benjamin Collins Brodie (President of the Royal Society, 1858-1861); Sir Edward Sabine (President of the Royal Society, 1861-1871); George Gabriel Stokes (one of the Secretaries, 1854-1884). The numerous other correspondents include many people active in the scientific world.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sharpey entered Edinburgh University in August 1817, to study the humanities and natural philosophy. In 1818 he commenced medical studies and in 1821 was admitted as a member of the Edinburgh College of Surgeons. He graduated MD of Edinburgh in 1823, and obtained the Fellowship of the College of Surgeons there in 1830. In 1834 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In 1836 he was appointed to the Chair of Anatomy and Physiology at University College London. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1839. He was appointed an Examiner in Anatomy at London University in 1840. In 1844 he was made a member of the Council of the Royal Society and in 1853 was appointed Secretary in place of Thomas Bell. For 15 years from 1861, Sharpey was one of the members appointed by the Crown on the General Council of Medical Education and Registration. In 1871 he retired as Secretary due to failure of eyesight. Sharpey died from bronchitis on 11 April 1880 in London and was buried at Arbroath.

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

Found in Flaxman House in November 1972.

Other Finding Aids

A handlist and name index is available. Please contact Special Collections for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

Normal copyright restrictions apply.

Related Material

University College London Special Collections also holds letters of Sharpey relating to University College London business, 1836-1874 (Ref: COLLEGE CORRESPONDENCE); miscellaneous others correspondence and papers of Sharpey (Ref: MS ADD 150, MS ADD 304, MS MISC 2Q, MS MISC 2S, MS MISC 3S, S.R.E.950.G1, S.R.E.950.H1.1, S.R.E.950.H17.4/1); various students' notes on his lectures (Ref: MS ADD 238, 278, 283-6).

Correspondence and papers of Sharpey are also held at the Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine; Royal Society; Natural History Museum; Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives; Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections; Glasgow University Library, Special Collections Department; Arbroath Museum; Elgin Museum. For further details see the National Register of Archives.