Eleazer Gidney Papers

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 EGP
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      0.1 li.m. 26 items Many items show signs of damage; it appears that several items were also previously in a document book and have been removed from this.
  • Location
      Collection available at University Archive and Records Centre, main University Library.

Scope and Content

A small collection relating to the American dentist, Eleazer Gidney (1797-1876) who practised for a number of years in Manchester. The correspondence mainly comprises testimonials for Gidney supplied by American friends and officials for his visits to Europe during the 1820s as well as some business correspondence. Letters from patients indicate that Gidney was providing services the elite of Manchester society. There are also a couple of letters from Henry Anthon, an Episcopalian minister, which refer to religious matters (Gidney was also an Episcopalian). The collection includes a post for a patent medicine invented by Gidney and his Anti-Corn Law league membership card.

Administrative / Biographical History

Eleazer Gidney was born in New York, in 1797. His family was a long-established one in the US, and they had originally been Quakers.

Eleazer Gidney was the youngest of six children of Joseph and Mary Gidney. His father, Joseph Gidney (1758-1833), was a landowner in New York state. Eleazer was apprenticed to Dr James L. van Kleeck, of Poughskeepsie, New York between 1811-13 and Dr Abel Catlin, of Litchfield, Connecticut between 1813-17. He then received a licence to practise medicine, although there is no evidence he attended a medical school. Gidney appears to have an interest in developing patent medicines, and in 1816, while still in Litchfield, he was advertising a remedy for cancer.

From around 1818 to 1824, Gidney studied dentistry at Baltimore and New York, and published A Treatise on the Structure, Diseases and Management of the Human Teeth in 1824. By this time, he was living in Utica, in upstate New York, and had married. By 1826, he was working in Canada, before travelling to Europe, where he visited London, Paris and Brussels in 1826/7. He attempted unsuccessfully to practise in Brussels, before returning to Utica. He appears to have practised in New York city, before returning to Europe in 1831. In London he attended courses of lectures in dental science and practice including those by Thomas Bell and James Snell and those of A F Talma in Brussels.

By 1832, Gidney had set up a practice in Manchester. Over the next few years he returned to North America in 1833, and 1836-39, before coming back to Manchester in 1839, where he remained until 1856/57, with a practice in Oldham St., then in Piccadilly, and finally at Aytoun St. He then returned to New York to reside at the family home, Malvern Hall, a very large house on the banks of the Hudson river. For reasons that are unclear, he returned to England in 1874 to live with his (second) wife and daughter at Upper Norwood. He had previously sold Malvern Hall, and moved to New York city. Gidney died in 1876 at London, and was buried at St Marylebone cemetery, East Finchley.


Arranged chronologically.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

The custody of the papers after Gidney's death is not known. J Menzies Campbell had access to them when writing his article on Gidney, and it is possible he passed them to the University Medical Library some time around 1948-1950.


None expected.

Related Material

Some Gidney Papers are held at the Royal College of Surgeons archives, GB 114 MS87


John Menzies Campbell "Eleazar Gidney: 1797-1876, A Widely Travelled Dentist, A contribution to Dental History", The Dental Magazine and Oral Topics, Aug 1950 . Campbell's article is the only biographical study of Gidney, and is based on the documents in this collection. It has been used for compiling the biographical note and other sections of this catalogue.