Burdon-Sanderson Papers

Scope and Content

The collection contains papers, correspondence and diaries of Sir John Burdon-Sanderson and also papers of his wife Lady Burdon-Sanderson. Some of the papers include notes and drafts of lectures and addresses. There are also papers that were used for a 'Memoir' of John Burdon-Sanderson, begun by Lady Burdon-Sanderson and completed by Burdon-Sanderson's niece and nephew, Elizabeth Sanderson Haldane and John Scott Haldane (published in Oxford, 1911).

Administrative / Biographical History

John Scott Burdon-Sanderson was born in December 1828 and educated at home. He went to the University of Edinburgh to study medicine in 1847 and graduated MD in 1851 with a gold medal for his thesis. He then went to continue his studies in Paris. In 1853 he settled in London as a practising physician and was soon appointed Medical Registrar of St Mary's Hospital in Paddington. That same year he married Ghetal, eldest daughter of the Rev. Ridley Haim Herschell. In 1854 he served the medical school at St Mary's Hospital as a Lecturer, first in botany and then in medical jurisprudence. In 1856 he was appointed Medical Officer of Health for Paddington and during the eleven years of his tenure of the post, gave proof of his eminence. He greatly improved sanitary conditions of the district and in 1860 he was made an inspector under the Privy Council. Also in 1860, Burdon-Sanderson became a physician at the Brompton Hospital for Consumption and also at the Middlesex Hospital. He continued carrying out investigations. In 1867 he was elected fellow of the Royal Society and Croonian lecturer. In 1870 he gave up his hospital appointments and private practice in order to devote himself exclusively to scientific research. In 1871 he was appointed Professor Superintendent of the Brown Institution (University of London) and as Professor of Practical Physiology and Histology at University College London. In 1874 he became Jodrell Professor of Physiology at University College London. He became FRCP in 1871, was Harveian orator at the College of Physicians in 1878, and was awarded the Baly medal in 1880. In 1882 he was invited to Oxford as first Waynflete Professor of Physiology. The degree of MA was conferred on him in 1883 and that of DM in 1895. He remained Waynflete Professor until 1895, when he was appointed Regius Professor of Medicine in the University. He resigned the Regius Professorship in 1903. Burdon-Sanderson served on important commissions and many honours were given to him. He took part in the modern advance in pathology, and in physiology he was an acknowledged master. He wrote many papers in his lifetime. In August 1899 he was created a baronet. He died at Oxford in November 1905.


Papers of Sir John Burdon-Sanderson comprise correspondence; diaries; memoranda and printed papers; notes and drafts of lectures, addresses and papers; newspaper cuttings; a diary of Jane Charlotte Burdon-Sanderson (his sister). Papers of Lady Burdon-Sanderson comprise family letters; general correspondence; miscellaneous. Papers relating to the 'Memoir' of Sir John Burdon-Sanderson comprise notebooks; miscellaneous notes and lists; typescript copies of letters; drafts of parts of the 'Memoir'; papers of J S and E S Haldane.

Access Information


This collection is currently closed. Please contact Special Collections for further information.

Acquisition Information

Presented by Sir John Burdon-Sanderson's great-nephew, Professor J B S Haldane, in 1953. Professor Haldane's father, John Scott Haldane, was the son of Robert Haldane and Elizabeth Burdon-Sanderson, sister of Sir John Burdon-Sanderson. See Haldane papers ref: HALDANE/3/3/1/2/31 + 32.

Other Finding Aids

A handlist and card index to correspondents is held at University College London Special Collections. Please contact Special Collections for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

Normal copyright restrictions apply.