Hunter, Dr. William

Secondary Collector

William Hunter was born in 1718 in Scotland. Educated at the University of Glasgow and the University of Edinburgh, Hunter graduated as a physician. After moving to London in 1741, Hunter gained renown as a doctor, anatomist and teacher. He was the first professor of anatomy at the Royal Academy. Then, in 1764, he was appointed physician to Queen Charlotte. While in London he began to amass a large and diverse collection of items, including ethnological material.

In 1783, Hunter bequeathed his remarkable collections - including one of the finest 18th century libraries - to the University of Glasgow, along with a sum of money for the construction of a building to house them. Specific sections of the collection were transferred to their current locations in the university in 1870. Where and how Hunter obtained his painted hide coat and single legging, both on display in the Virtual Collection, is unknown. It is believed, however, he acquired them in the 1760s or 1770s from traders and soldiers returning from Canada.

Hunter’s brother John created another Hunterian Museum, this one housed at the Royal College of Surgeons, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London.