Lives of the fellows

William Orange

b.24 October 1833 d.31 December 1916
MD Heidelberg MRCS LSA FRCP(1878)

William Orange was of Huguenot extraction. His father, Rev. John Orange, was an Independent Baptist minister at Torquay, Orange’s birthplace. He was apprenticed to a doctor in Berkshire at the age of fifteen and then entered St. Thomas’ Hospital as a medical student. When he had qualified in 1856, he made a long Continental tour in charge of a patient, during which he learned French, German and Italian. His first official post was as assistant medical officer at the Surrey County Lunatic Asylum at Tooting. From there he became in 1862, deputy superintendent of the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum, succeeding Meyer as superintendent eight years afterwards. His work there earned him a world-wide reputation as an authority on the treatment of criminal lunatics. In 1883-84, as president of the Medico-Psychological Society, he delivered an address explaining the relation of mental derangement to the law, and his articles in Tuke’s Dictionary of Psychological Medicine and elsewhere further explored this subject. As medical adviser to the Home Office, he held enquiries into the sanity of criminals condemned to death and was involved in a number of controversial cases, including those of Christina Edmunds and the Rev. H. J. Dodwell. It was Dodwell who, as a prisoner in Broadmoor, made a murderous attack on Orange in 1882. Orange, like his predecessor who had experienced a similar assault, never fully recovered and decided to retire in 1886, although he later performed useful service to Broadmoor as a member of its Council of Supervision between 1892 and 1904. He was awarded the C.B. when he retired. Although inclined to concern himself overmuch with details, he was on the whole well fitted by his sound judgment, decisive will, and calm temperament, for his life’s work. Owing to an apparent coldness of manner, he did not make friends readily. He took no part in games but enjoyed riding and interested himself in the asylum’s farming activities. He married in 1872 Florence Elizabeth Hart and had four daughters and a son. He died at Bexhill.

G H Brown

[B.M.J., 1917; Presidential Address to R.C.P., 1917, 27]

(Volume IV, page 257)

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