Lives of the fellows

William Tyler Smith

b.10 April 1815 d.2 June 1873
MD Lond FRCP(1859)

William Tyler Smith was born near Bristol and studied at the Bristol School of Medicine. Although penniless and friendless, he decided to make his career in London. Having graduated in 1840, he obtained a teaching post in a private school in Bedford Square. The foundations of his success were laid, when, after contributing to the Lancet, he became one of its sub-editors. He also made the acquaintance of Marshall Hall and, with his encouragement, published, in the Lancet, lectures which formed the substance of his principal books, Parturition and the Principles and Practice of Obstetrics (1849), and Manual of Obstetrics (1858) which was, for a time, the standard work on the subject. On the establishment of St. Mary’s Hospital, Tyler Smith joined its staff as obstetric physician and lecturer on obstetrics. He was made consulting obstetric physician on his retirement after twenty years. Greatly concerned with raising the status of obstetrics, he played a leading part in founding the Obstetrical Society of London and was its second president. He was also associated with the New Equitable Life Assurance Society, and another of his interests was the development of Seaford as a fashionable watering-place. Tyler Smith, handicapped as he was by indifferent health, owed his position entirely to his own ambition and self-reliance which, if they provoked the enmity of some of his fellows, obscured his failings as a lecturer and exploited to the full his talents as a writer and his skill in controversy. His wife, by whom he had seven children, was Tryphena, daughter of J. Yearsley of Tewkesbury. He died at Richmond.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1873; B.M.J., 1873; Medical Times and Gazette, 1873; D.N.B., liii, 167]

(Volume IV, page 119)

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