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Wilson, Sir William James Erasmus (1809-1884)

  • Wilson, Sir William James Erasmus, (1809-1884)
Part of
Miscellany: British, mainly 19th-20th centuries
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


Letters from Erasmus Wilson to various people, mainly relating to his medical and scientific studies and work, social engagements, publications and Egyptian history. Also includes some letters to or concerning Wilson, including 3 letters from a Frances Mahoney, 1848 (MS.8007/37/6-8), and a statement denying any connection of Mr Wilson with Mr Pears the Soap manufacturer, 1878 (MS.8007/37/28). Plus one letter from Wilson concerning the Egyptian obelisk, 1879 (MS.8007/37/29), and a very rough 2-page manuscript by Wilson, undated (MS.8007/37/45-46).



Physical description

50 items


Chronological followed by undated items.

Acquisition note

Purchased from 12 different sources, mainly auction houses, between 1918 and 1945, mostly in England some in France. Contact the Archivist for further details if required.

Biographical note

British surgeon and philanthropist, LLD FRS. Born in London 1809, studied at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London, and at Aberdeen. Became a specialist in dermatology and published much on diseases affecting the skin, as well as other anatomical and surgical text books. He founded in 1869 the chair and museum of dermatology in the Royal College of Surgeons, of which he was chosen president in 1881, and which just before his death awarded him its honorary gold medal, founded in 1800 and only six times previously awarded. He also founded a professorship of pathology at Aberdeen University. After the death of his wife the bulk of his property, some £200,000, went to the Royal College of Surgeons. In 1878 he, rather than the British government, defrayed the expense of bringing the Egyptian obelisk called 'Cleopatra's Needle' from Alexandria to London, where it was erected on the Thames Embankment. He was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1881, and died at Westgate-on-Sea in August 1884.

Finding aids

Archives and Manuscripts, Wellcome Library, on-line catalogue.


  • English

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