b.24 December 1868 d.24 December 1957
BA Cantab(1890) MB BCh Cantab(1894) MD Cantab(1907) MRCP(1898) FRCP(1907)
William James Fenton was born at Aston Manor, Warwickshire, on December 24th, 1868, the son of a jeweller of the same name. He was educated at first privately and subsequently at the Leamington Collegiate School. He went up to Caius College, Cambridge, in 1887, and received his clinical training at St. George’s Hospital. After graduation he held a number of appointments at St. George’s before his election to the staff of Charing Cross and Brompton Hospitals. At the latter he was in charge of the Chelsea Tuberculosis Dispensary from 1911.
For some years Fenton was dean of Charing Cross Hospital Medical School which he worked very hard to rehabilitate. He was also dean of the Medical School at Brompton. He retired from the staff of Charing Cross in 1933, but owing to the rules at that time in force at Brompton he remained on its staff till 1939. On his retirement he was appointed consulting physician to both hospitals. He was an examiner in medicine for the Royal College of Physicians, Cambridge University, and the University of Wales, and also for the Society of Apothecaries of London. His contributions to the literature of medicine were not many, but he was joint author with L. S. T. Burrell of a textbook entitled Diseases of the chest (1930).
He was a very capable and painstaking consultant, but had no special bent for original work. He was most punctilious in his work and was very popular with his patients because of his kindly disposition. Some of his best work was done at the Chelsea Tuberculosis Dispensary, where his interest in the preventive side of tuberculosis was given full scope. Apart from his professional work, his absorbing interest was photography and he was an enthusiastic worker in bromoils.
After his retirement in 1939 he took many photographs, mainly in Worcestershire and Warwickshire, for the national records. He was also a keen violinist and at one time conducted an amateur orchestra. He married, rather late in life, Vivian Olive Ferguson, who died in 1930. He had one daughter and two sons, one of whom was killed on active service during the Second World War. He died on the eighty-ninth anniversary of his birth.
Richard R Trail
[Brit.med.J., 1958, 1, 106-07; Lancet, 1958, 1, 111; Times, 1 Jan. 1958.]
(Volume V, page 127)
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