Lives of the fellows

William Henry Ransom

b.19 November 1823 d.16 April 1907
MB Lond(1848) MD FRCP(1869) FRS(1870)

William Ransom was born at Cromer, the son of Henry Ransom, master mariner, by his wife Mary Jones, daughter of a Welsh clergyman. He went to school at Norwich and, after an apprenticeship with a doctor in King’s Lynn, studied at University College, London, where he won several gold medals and graduated as M.B. in 1848. After serving in house appointments at University College Hospital, he studied in Germany and France and then in 1850 settled in Nottingham, where he was physician to the General Hospital from 1854 to 1890. During his earlier years of practice, he devoted much of his spare time to studying the embryology of fish and the development of galls and tumours in plants. For this work he was made an F.R.S. in 1870. As a consultant, Ransom was a first-class diagnostician and, although in manner occasionally brusque, he had the great gift of inspiring confidence in his patients.

He was generally ahead of his time in his views on hospital design and management and on popularly accepted medical fallacies. He attacked the exaggerated fear of cold as a cause of disease, and he himself was seldom to be seen wearing an overcoat. He was the inventor of a disinfecting machine heated by gas. Ransom was an enthusiastic supporter of the Volunteer movement in its early days and enlisted as a private in the Robin Hood Rifles. He helped to found and organize Nottingham University College, interested himself in Liberal politics, and made a hobby of geology. He married in 1860 Elizabeth, daughter of Dr. John William Bramwell of North Shields, and had four sons and one daughter. The eldest son, W. B. Ransom, F.R.C.P., succeeded him on the staff of Nottingham General Hospital.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1907; B.M.J., 1907; D.N.B., 2nd Suppl., iii, 158]

(Volume IV, page 173)

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