Lives of the fellows

William Baly

b.1814 d.28 January 1861
MD Berlin(1836) MRCS FRCP(1846) FRS

As a boy, William Baly attended the Grammar School at his native King’s Lynn. University College and St. Bartholomew’s Hospital provided his early medical training and, after qualifying in 1834, he completed his studies at Paris, Heidelberg and Berlin, taking the Berlin degree of M.D. in 1836. His next step was to establish himself in practice in London. His first accomplishment to attract attention was his translation of Müller’s Elements of Physiology (1838-42), which took the place of Bostock’s work until itself replaced by Paget and Kirkes’ handbook in 1848. In 1841 Baly became physician to the Millbank Penitentiary, having reported, in the previous year, on the condition of the prison. This post provided material for his paper on the Diseases of Prisons in 1845, his Goulstonian Lectures on Dysentery in 1847 and his Report on Epidemic Cholera for the Royal College of Physicians in 1854, and he came to be regarded by the Government as one of its leading advisers on prison hygiene. He returned to St. Bartholomew’s as lecturer on forensic medicine in 1841. Thirteen years later he was made assistant physician and in 1855 relinquished his lectureship on becoming joint lecturer on medicine. In 1859 he was honoured by the appointment of Physician-Extraordinary to the Queen, and later he was nominated to the General Medical Council as a Crown Representative. Baly, popular but modest, seemed destined for high rank in his profession when he was killed in a railway accident in 1861. The Royal College of Physicians, where he filled the office of Censor in 1858-59, instituted a Gold Medal, awarded biennially in his name, for distinction in physiology.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1861; Moore, ii, 556; D.N.B., iii, 99]

(Volume IV, page 45)

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