b.1 June 1861 d.13 January 1937
CB(1916) MB CM Edin(1883) MD Hon LLD MRCS FRCP(1896) FRS Edin
William Hunter was born at Ballantrae, Ayrshire, the son of Robert Hunter of Birkenhead, and distinguished himself as a student at Edinburgh University by winning the Beaney prize and the Ettles scholarship. Graduating as M.B, C.M, in 1883, with first-class honours, he served on the resident staff of the Royal Infirmary and as physician to the Western Dispensary, Edinburgh. In 1884, aided by a grant from the B.M.A., he studied at Leipzig, returning to Edinburgh as assistant to the professor of physiology. From 1887 to 1890, as John Lucas Walker student, he worked on pathology at Cambridge. In this period, during which he also visited Vienna and Strasbourg, he published papers on pernicious anaemia which proved to be the forerunners of some twenty years’ valuable research on this subject. He was Arris and Gale lecturer at the Royal College of Surgeons in 1889-90.
On leaving Cambridge, Hunter settled in London, becoming assistant physician to the London Fever Hospital, where in due course he rose to be consulting physician, and to the West London Hospital. In 1895 he was appointed pathologist to the Charing Cross Hospital, in 1903 assistant physician, in 1907 physician, and, when he retired, consulting physician. He lectured on practical medicine from 1899 to 1906 and on pathology after 1903, and from 1911 to 1915 held office as dean of the School, which he did much to improve. He wrote articles both for Allbutt’s System of Medicine and Hutchinson and Sherren’s Index of Treatment, and examined for Cambridge and Glasgow Universities.
The 1914-1918 War directed Hunter’s energies into fresh channels. Holding the rank of colonel, he headed the British Military Sanitary Committee to Serbia in 1915 and presided over the Medical Advisory Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean and Mesopotamia Expeditionary Forces from 1915 to 1917, being responsible for the introduction of the "Serbian Barrel" for the disinfection of clothing and of the "delousing train". He was appointed C.B. in 1916 and a Grand Officer of the Serbian Order of St. Sava. Hunter married in 1894 Beatrice, daughter of Joshua Fielden, M.P, of Nutfield Priory, Surrey. He died in a London nursing home.
G H Brown
[Lancet, 1937; B.M.J., 1937; Times, 16 Jan. 1937]
(Volume IV, page 388)
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