Lives of the fellows

William Fletcher (Sir) Shaw

b.13 April 1878 d.14 November 1961
Kt(1943) MB ChB Manch(1903) MD Manch(1906) Hon MMSA(1947) Hon LLD Belf(1948) FCOG(1929) Hon FACS(1936) MRCP(1936) FRCP(1939)

William Shaw was the son of David Shaw, an industrial chemist, of Clayton, Manchester, and Zilliah, daughter of William Fletcher, a woollen manufacturer, of Littleborough. From Manchester Grammar School he went to the University and the Royal Infirmary where he held junior resident posts before becoming resident surgical officer at St. Mary’s Hospital for Women and Children. There he was appointed to the staff in 1912, seven years before becoming honorary gynaecologist to the Royal Infirmary.

In 1924, the year before he was appointed to the chair of obstetrics and gynaecology at Manchester, he discussed with Blair-Bell the foundation of the British College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, of which he became a foundation fellow and its first honorary secretary in 1929, and its president from 1938 to 1943, in which year he received a knighthood.

His outstanding work was recognised in many honours: an honorary fellowship of the American College of Surgeons, the mastership of midwifery of the Society of Apothecaries, and the LL.D, of Queen’s University, Belfast. He held many important offices such as president of the North of England Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society, and of the section of obstetrics and gynaecology of the Royal Society of Medicine, and chairman of the Convocation of Manchester University, before becoming in 1943 consultant adviser in gynaecology to the north west region. In his specialty he examined at the Universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Leeds and Wales.

Shaw was greatly respected and liked; to his students he was affectionately known as ‘Hairy Bill’ because of his fine black ‘handlebar’ moustache, and to his colleagues he was ever the gracious and courtly gentleman, who made an excellent host, with a great sense of humour and a remarkable memory.

He was twice married; first on 9 December 1920 to Nora, daughter of David Meredith Jones, of Manchester, by whom he had two sons; and then in 1939, five years after the death of his first wife, to Mabie Mary, daughter of Richard Beaty, men’s outfitter, and widow of Dr Archibald Stevenson, of South Shields.

Richard R Trail

[Brit.med.J., 1961, 2, 1437-8 (p); 1962, 1, 195-6; Guardian, 17 Nov. 1961; J. Obstet. Gynaec. Brit. Comm., 1962, 69, 151-3 (p); Lancet, 1961, 2, 1208-09 (p); Times, 16 (p), 22 Nov., 1 Dec. 1961.]

(Volume V, page 374)

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