Lives of the fellows

William Wilson (Sir) Jameson

b.12 May 1885 d.18 October 1962
Kt(1939) KCB(1943) GBE(1949) MA Aberd(1905) MB ChB Aberd(1909) MD Aberd(1912) DPH Lond(1914) Hon LLD Aberd(1940) Hon LLD Toronto(1941) Hon LLD Manch(1945) Hon ScD Cantab(1948) Hon LLD Wales(1953) Hon LLD Belf(1954) MRCP(1913) FRCP(1930) Hon FRCP(C)(1941) Hon FRCOG(1943) Hon FCGP(1956)

William Wilson Jameson, the only son of John Wilson Jameson, a bank agent, and Isobella Milne, a teacher, the daughter of the ballast master to the port of Aberdeen, was born at Craigie, near Perth, and was educated at the Grammar School and the University of Aberdeen. After resident posts at the Prince of Wales Hospital and the City of London Chest Hospital and a year in general practice, he spent two years at Hackney Board of Guardians Infirmary, Homerton, and in 1914 was appointed part-time assistant and lecturer in hygiene under H. R. Kenwood at University College.

From 1915 to 1919 he served in the R.A.M.C, as a specialist sanitary officer in England, France and Italy, and was then appointed medical officer of health of Finchley Urban District and deputy medical officer of health of St. Marylebone Metropolitan Borough. In 1925 he became medical officer of health of Hornsey, and in 1929 the first London University professor of public health in the newly-created School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Two years later he was appointed dean.

He now travelled to the United States, to India and Africa and in Europe on behalf of the Rockefeller Foundation, the Health Committee of the League of Nations, and the Colonial Office, and became a member of the Army, Royal Air Force and Colonial Office Medical Advisory Committees. As formal teaching at the London School of Hygiene virtually ceased with the outbreak of war, he became medical adviser to the Colonial Office, and in 1940 became the first man to reach the high office of chief medical officer to the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education by an academic route.

The work was arduous; evacuation, health in the shelters, diphtheria, venereal diseases, tuberculosis and nutrition presented critical problems, but by his tact, geniality and ready helpfulness he soon had the ungrudging support of the administrators. From 1942 to 1944 he fathered the hospital surveys for the basic planning of the National Health Service. Maintaining throughout the negotiations with the profession the support and admiration of Mr Aneurin Bevan, he avoided the danger of a fatal split, and it was due to him that the clinician was to receive rewards not less than those of the administrator.

As Protomedicus Anglorum, the title given him by The Lancet, he changed the Ministry of Health from a narrow and specialised department to one of the major activities of Government; he was ‘the right man in the right place at the right time’. After his retirement in 1950 he spent ten happy years as medical adviser to the King Edward VII Hospital Fund for London.

A large, florid man with an even temperament, he was tolerant in discussion and lucid and logical in teaching. His broadcasts on diphtheria and venereal diseases were masterpieces. At the College he was Councillor, 1933-5 and 1941-3, Harveian orator, 1942, and Bisset Hawkins medallist in 1950. He was also awarded the Buchanan medal of the Royal Society. In his busy life he had little time for recreation except golf, but he enjoyed his association with the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of which he was Master, 1952-3.

In 1916 he married Pauline, daughter of J. P. Helm, a Scots sheep-farmer; they had two daughters. After his first wife’s death in 1958, he married Constance, daughter of Dr H. Dobie, of Chester.

Richard R Trail

[, 1962, 2, 1131-3 (p), 1200, 1265-6, 1408, 1693-4; Lancet, 1962, 2, 889-91 (p); Times, 20, 24 Oct. 1962 (p).]

(Volume V, page 212)

<< Back to List