Lives of the fellows

Benjamin Arthur (Sir) Whitelegge

b.17 October 1852 d.25 April 1933
KCB(1911) CB(1902) BSc MD Lond DPH Cantab MRCS FRCP(1898)

Arthur Whitelegge, the son of Henry Whitelegge of Tideswell, Derbyshire, was educated at Tideswell Grammar School and University College, London, where he graduated in science in 1874, two years before qualifying in medicine. His early appointments were as house surgeon to the Hospital for Children, Manchester, and as medical superintendent of the St. Pancras Smallpox Sanatorium and of the Sheffield Fever Hospital. From 1884 to 1889 he was medical officer of health for Nottingham, and from 1889 to 1896 medical officer of health for the West Riding of Yorkshire, performing the additional duties of chief sanitary officer to the West Riding Rivers Board after 1894. After 1891 he also acted as lecturer on public health at Charing Cross Hospital in London, a post that he held till 1901. In 1896 he moved to London on being appointed chief inspector of factories at the Home Office. In this capacity he served on the Royal Commission of 1901 on arsenical poisoning and the committee of 1913 on the lighting of factories. Whitelegge was one of the first to study factory conditions, particularly in relation to occupational risks and diseases, from the medical viewpoint. He lent his support to the introduction of the factory and schools medical services, health insurance and industrial welfare work.

Whitelegge was the author of a manual of Hygiene and Public Health which, first published in 1890, reappeared in sixteen subsequent editions. He delivered the Milroy Lectures at the Royal College of Physicians in 1893. He retired from the Home Office in 1917, having been created C.B. in 1902 and K.C.B. in 1911. As a civil servant, open to new ideas but cautious in their application, in addition to possessing the necessary qualities of vision, orderliness and fairmindedness, he shared the breadth of outlook and the wide learning of his eminent predecessors in the realm of public health. He married in 1885 Fanny Marian, daughter of John Callcott Horsley, R.A, and sister of Sir Victor Horsley, F.R.C.S, and had two sons. He died at his home in Kensington.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1933; B.M.J., 1933]

(Volume IV, page 407)

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