Leeds University Library

The Hey Family Collection

Published Friday 1 April 2016

extract from the Heys collection © Estate of William Hey

Case histories and papers by the Hey family, surgeons of Leeds, are now available in the catalogue.

As part of the Medical Collections Project, the papers of the notable Leeds surgeon William Hey (1736-1819) and other family members have now been brought together under one collection catalogue.

Explore the Hey family collection.

William Hey trained as a surgeon in Leeds and then at St George's Hospital, London, before returning to Leeds open his own medical practice. An influential figure in the city; he was at the forefront of the campaign for the opening of the Leeds General Infirmary, becoming its senior surgeon from 1773-1812, and was also Mayor of Leeds twice.

The collection mainly consists of 21 notebooks of surgical and obstetrical patient case histories which Hey attended as part of his private practice. They are a fantastic resource for researching medicine in the late 18th-early 19th centuries, with a wide range of case types. We also have correspondence and a set of manuscript essays by Hey on various topics.

Explore William Hey's casebooks.

Two of Hey's sons followed in his footsteps: both Richard Hey (d1789) and William Hey II (1772-1844) became surgeons; William also becoming senior surgeon at the Leeds General Infirmary after his father's retirement. The collection includes two notebooks of patient case histories compiled by Richard and William Hey II. There are additional papers by William Hey II: notes for a biography of his father written by John Pearson, and papers relating to his work at the Infirmary.

Finally, the collection also includes letters from William Hey's grandson, Samuel Hey (1815-1888), which he sent to his brother, another William Hey (1811-1882). Samuel trained as a surgeon: he was apprenticed to the Hey family practice in Leeds and observed operations at the Leeds General Infirmary. He was one of the first students at the Leeds Medical School, opened in 1831 by a group of surgeons including his cousin William Hey III (1796-1875). The letters mainly cover Samuel's years of training in Leeds and later in London, describing the lectures he attended and practising dissection skills.

Explore Samuel Hey's letters.