Lives of the fellows

William Augustus Guy

b.1810 d.10 September 1885
MB Cantab FRCP(1844) FRS

W. A. Guy was born at Chichester, the son of William Guy, and was educated at Christ’s Hospital, Pembroke College, Cambridge, and Guy’s Hospital. He won the Fothergillian medal of the Medical Society of London for an essay on asthma in 1831. He spent two years at Heidelberg and Paris before graduating as M.B. in 1837. His chief association was with King’s College, London, where he was professor of forensic medicine from 1838 to 1872 and professor of hygiene from 1869 to 1878. He was appointed assistant physician to King’s College Hospital in 1840 and physician with care of outpatients in 1841, and held the office of dean of the Medical School in 1846 and again from 1849 to 1858. In the latter capacity he ably assisted R. B. Todd in restoring the School’s reputation. In 1862 he was appointed an examiner by London University.

Guy’s main interests outside King’s College lay in the field of statistics. He was an honorary secretary of the Statistical Society from 1843 to 1868, editor of its Journal from 1852 to 1856, vice-president from 1869 to 1872, and finally president from 1873 to 1875. The study of medical statistics made him a keen advocate of sanitary reform. He took a part in founding the Health of Towns’ Association and, in 1844, gave evidence before the Health of Towns’ Commission on the condition of printing offices and the causes of consumption among printers. He served on the Royal Commission on the working of the Penal Servitude Acts in 1878 and on the Criminal Lunatic Commission in 1879.

At the Royal College of Physicians, he was Censor and Harveian Orator (1875). He also delivered the Croonian Lectures (1860-61) and the Lumleian Lectures (1868). He was vice-president of the Royal Society in 1876-77. His Principles of Forensic Medicine, first published in 1844, became a standard work. Although frequently consulted on medico-legal cases, his distrust of juries, combined with a natural sensitiveness, prevented him from appearing publicly in court.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1885; B.M.J., 1885; Lyle, 121; Al.Cantab., iii, 179; D.N.B., xxiii, 392]

(Volume IV, page 36)

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