Trephination Set


This trephination set belonged to Charles McKnight (1750-1791), a physician who served in the Continental Army during the American Revolution, and then practiced in New York City. Trephining, a surgical procedure entailing boring a hole through the skull, was widely advocated for the treatment of head wounds during this time. This set of tools, or parts of the set, was made by William Hasledine Pepys (1748–1805), a cutler and surgical instrument maker in London. The set contains: two (2) crown trephines with handle; one (1) tweezer forceps; one (1) arrow head perforator; one (1) elevator; two (2) lenticular knives; one (1) tripod; one (1) scalpel; one (1) forceps; and one (1) Sharp's forceps.

Charles McKnight graduated from the College of New Jersey in 1771, and then studied medicine under Dr. William Shippen, of Philadelphia. He joined the Continental Army before completing his studies. In 1777 he was appointed Surgeon General (Senior Surgeon) of the so-called "flying hospital" of the Middle Department. He moved with Washington's army and was with them during the harsh winter of 1779-80 at Jockey Hollow, New Jersey. After the war, McKnight became one of the original members of the Society of the Cincinnati. He practiced medicine in New York City and served as professor of Anatomy at Columbia College until his death in 1791, at age 41.

Date Made: mid 1700s

Maker: Pepys, William Hasledine

Location: Currently not on view

Subject: Revolutionary War


See more items in: Medicine and Science: Medicine


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of Rosalie F. Bailey

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1979.0264.02Catalog Number: 1979.0264.02Accession Number: 1979.0264

Object Name: Trepanning Settrephination Setsurgical setOther Terms: Trepanning Set; Surgical Set; Trepanning

Physical Description: wood, oak (overall material)fabric, cotton (overall material)metal, steel (overall material)wood (overall material)Measurements: overall: 5.5 cm x 24.4 cm x 20.8 cm; 2 3/16 in x 9 5/8 in x 8 3/16 inpart: drill handle: 3 in x 3 3/4 in x 1 1/4 in; 7.62 cm x 9.525 cm x 3.175 cm


Record Id: nmah_1057276

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