James Young Simpson Papers
James Simpson was born in Bathgate, West Lothian, the seventh son of a baker. He was educated at the local school and went to Edinburgh University at the age of 14. Too young to graduate, he became a Licentiate of the College in 1830 before graduating in 1832.
He became Professor of Midwifery at Edinburgh University in 1840, Physician to Queen Victoria in 1847, President of the Royal College of Physicians in 1850 and Baronet in 1866.
A man of enormous energy and great personal charm, Simpson was a keen controversialist and much loved physician. His contributions to obstetrics are overshadowed by his discovery of the anaesthetic effects of chloroform in November 1847. After ether was discovered in 1846, Simpson was quick to use it to relieve the pains of labour, earning the gratitude of countless women and the condemnation of some members of the church and the medical profession. Simpson was a doughty advocate of the cause of general anaesthesia and his final vindication came when Queen Victoria had chloroform at the birth of Prince Leopold in 1853.
He made many valuable contributions to the advancement of midwifery both by the invention of new instruments and the introduction of new methods. In 1844 he opened a Dispensary for Women and Children in St John Street, Edinburgh and, over the next three years, 7617 patients were registered.
He achieved world-wide fame and visitors from all over the world came to see him at his home in 52 Queen Street.
JYS Items 1 to 1873
The table below contains a brief overview of the papers held in the Archives for James Young Simpson.
A fuller description of the James Young Simpson papers can be downloaded below.
|Item Number||Item Description|
|1-181||Correspondence and papers of J.Y. Simpson concerning the administration of ether (1847) and the discovery and early use of chloroform.|
|182-233||Correspondence and papers of J.Y. Simpson concerning the use of anaesthesia in midwifery. 1847-1849.|
|234-340||Correspondence and papers of J.Y. Simpson concerning obstetrics and gynaecology. 1840-1868.|
|341-379||J.Y. Simpson's correspondence and papers on homoeopathy 1851-1858.|
|380-407||J.Y. Simpson's correspondence with Dr. David Greig, 1860-1869, and other papers respecting acupressure in surgery.|
|408-438||Correspondence and papers of J.Y. Simpson concerning various medical subjects (inoculation, plagues, puerperal fever, leprosy, genetics and mesmerism.) 1845-1861.|
|439-525||Correspondence concerning, and reprints of, various medical publications. 1837-1894.|
|526-606||General medical correspondence of J.Y. Simpson. 1837-1871.|
|607-676||Correspondence relating to J.Y. Simpson's private practice. 1843-1870.|
|677-713||Papers relating to the foster care of Mary White and Rochester Quinton. 1850-1866.|
|714-834||Correspondence relating to professional disputes involving J.Y. Simpson. 1839-1868.|
|835-906||Correspondence relating to the medical reform bill, mainly 1856-1858.|
|907-972||University papers - 1836-1868.|
|973-1050||Correspondence relating to the principalship contest between J.Y. Simpson and Sir Alexander Grant. 1863.|
|1051-1079||Miscellaneous rough notes of J.Y. Simpson. 1829-1867.|
|1080-1102||Religious correspondence and papers of J.Y. Simpson, 1852-1865.|
|1103-1194||J.Y. Simpson's correspondence and notes and papers in his possession respecting archaeology and antiquities, 1823-1870.|
|1195-1240||Correspondence concerning the Grindlay shipping business, 1843-1859.|
|1241-1287||Correspondence and comments relating to various mineral and mining ventures, etc. 1857-1888.|
|1288-1311||Correspondence and papers relating to J.Y. Simpson's sugar estates in Tobago. 1866-1868.|
|1312-1382||Correspondence and papers respecting the trust disposition and settlement, shares and properties owned by J.Y. Simpson and his heirs. 1840-1901.|
|1383-1406||Domestic accounts of the Simpson family. 1847-1902.|
|1407-1467||Family correspondence and related documents. 1832-1948.|
|1468-1573||Correspondence to J.Y. Simpson congratulating him on his baronetcy, 1866.|
|1574-1735||Letters of condolence. 1862-1870.|
|1736-1873||Miscellaneous correspondence and documents of the Simpson family, 1819-1948.|