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Clover, Joseph Thomas (1825-1882)

  • Clover, Joseph Thomas (1825-1882)
MSS.1684-1694 and 6942-6951
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


Material relating to the use of nitrous oxide, chloroform and ether, mostly notes, including some on an operation carried out on Napolean III, and notes for lectures given by Clover. There is some personal material relating to Clover’s education, including some family correspondence.



Physical description

3 boxes, 3 volumes, 3 files


MSS.1684-1694 comprises material relating the use of nitrous oxide, chloroform and ether, maily notes and lectures given by Clover. The papers include notes on his experiments, cases of an anaesthetic being administered to patients and notes on the apparatus he designed for the purpose. MSS. 6942-6951 comprises material relating to Clover’s education and some personal correspondence.

Acquisition note

MSS. 1684-1694 from the Dudley Buxton Collection, presented 1935 (acc.79763); MSS.6942-6951 presented by Lady MacIntosh, 1992, from the collection of Sir Robert Reynolds MacIntosh (1897-1989), who acquired the papers from Nancy Laura Clover (d.1968), granddaughter of the anaesthetist and transferred from the Wellcome Library's Contemporary Medical Archives Centre, October 1992 (acc. 349049).

Biographical note

Joseph Thomas Clover was born at Aylsham, Norfolk in 1825. After leaving Grey Friars Priory School he worked as an apprentice to a surgeon, and became a dresser at at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital in 1842. In 1844 he entered University College Hospital as Physician’s Assitant and House Surgeon to to Thomas Morton and James Syme. In August 1848 he was appointed Resident Medical Officer. He may have been present at the first major operation in England to use an anaesthetic, when, in December 1846, Robert Liston amputated a patient’s thigh using open ether. Clover spent the rest of his life studying and experimenting with the administration of anaesthetics, inventing several pieces of equipment for this purpose. He became a lecturer in anaesthetics at University College Hospital and an administrator of anasethetics at the Dental Hopital, positions he held at the time of his death on 27 September 1882. He was survived by his wife, Mary Anne (neé Hall) and four children. In Sir D'Arcy Power's entry for Clover in his edition of Plarr's Lives of the Fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons of England 1930, Vol. I, p. 38, the Editor states that: "Clover took a notable part in rendering safe the administration of an anaesthetic. His inventive faculty was of a high order, and after many trials and much experimenting, he constructed an 'Inhaler'."

Related material

Material held by Archives and Manuscripts, Wellcome Library:

More Clover material is held in MS.5461; the papers of Dudley Wilmot Buxton (1855–1931) (MSS.1423-1426, MS.5461) are closely linked to Clover's.

Other Wellcome Library archive collections touching on anaesthesia include: Dick-Read, Grantly (1890-1959) (PP/GDR); Macintosh, Sir Robert, FRCSE,FFARCS (1897-1989) (PP/RRM, MS.8225); British Medical Association (SA/BMA); Medical Women's Federation (f.1916) (SA/MWF); Cooke, Arthur, MB, BCh, FRCS (1869-1933) (GC/39); University Of London Audio-visual Centre (GC/170); Scharlieb, (later Shirley) Herbert J, CMG, MD, FRCS (1868-1943) (GC/190); Hall, 'Sam' Vernon F, CVO, (1904-1998) (GC/203); Stout, Robert James (b.1917), FRCS (GC/226); Travelling Surgical Society (f.1924) (SA/TSS); Axham, Frederick William, MRCS, LRCP (1840-1926) (MS. 7845); Hickman, Henry Hill MRCS (1800-1830) (MS.7625); Franklin , Alfred White (1905–1984) (MSS. 5639–5641).

Material relating to Clover held elsewhere:

Oxford University, Nuffield College Library: medical notebooks.

University of British Columbia, Woodward Biomedical Library: correspondence and papers, c.1840-1982.

Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (630 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne 3004, Australia): the collection of the Geoffrey Kaye Museum of Anaesthetic History, housed at the College, contains a casebook by Clover. The book records lecture notes and cases of interest which Dr Clover met in years 1846-1853 and has numerous references to the then-new discovery of anaesthesia. The book was donated to the College by Professor R.R. Macintosh, whose papers are held at the Wellcome Library as PP/RRM, in 1949. (Registration number: 4896.)

Finding aids

Database description transcribed from S.A.J. Moorat, Catalogue of Western Manuscripts on Medicine and Science in the Wellcome Historical Medical Library (London: Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, 1962-1973) and subsequent typescript supplementary finding aids by Richard Aspin, Christopher Hilton, Keith Moore and Richard Palmer.


  • English

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