Lives of the fellows

William Henry (Sir) Willcox

b.18 January 1870 d.8 July 1941
KCIE(1921) CB CMG BSc Lond(1892) MD Hon MD Melb DPH LSA FRCP(1910) FIC

William Willcox, the son of William Willcox, was born and brought up at Melton Mowbray and went to school at Oakham and Leicester. At London University he entered University College first and graduated as B.Sc. there in 1892. He then, in 1895, took up the study of medicine at St. Mary’s Hospital, gaining several gold medals, and qualifying in 1899. From 1904 to 1906 he held a registrar’s post at St. Mary’s, and in 1907 was elected to the honorary staff. He lectured on chemical pathology, forensic medicine, and other subjects. As a Home Office analyst, associated with many famous criminal trials, he became widely known to the public in the years before the 1914-1918 War. During the War he served as consultant to the armies in Mesopotamia, with the rank of colonel, gaining valuable clinical experience of malaria, and was created C.B. and C.M.G. as well as receiving four mentions in despatches in recognition of his measures to combat scurvy and beri-beri.

On his return to civilian life, he relinquished his analytical work for the Home Office but remained one of its medical advisers. He gave the Lumleian Lectures at the Royal College of Physicians in 1931. Willcox was a prominent supporter of London medical societies and occupied the chair of the Harveian Society in 1922, the West London Medico-Chirurgical Society in 1923, the Medico-Legal Society in 1928 and the Medical Society of London in 1936. In 1935 he held the office of master of the Society of Apothecaries. For Cambridge University and the Royal College of Physicians, he performed the duties of Examiner and, for the Privy Council, those of visitor to the Pharmaceutical Society’s examinations. The London Fever Hospital and St. Luke’s Hostel for the Clergy appointed him to their staffs, and he was also an authority on rheumatic complaints and on the medical aspects of intemperance. He was slow in speech and thought, a trait which aroused adverse comment in court until the strength of the conviction, behind his cautious, imperturbable exterior came to be appreciated. Riding in the Park and hunting in Leicestershire were his recreations. Indeed, his build and expression suggested a sturdy country squire. Willcox, who was created K.C.I.E. in 1921, was married to Mildred, daughter of W. Griffin of Clapton, Northamptonshire, and had three sons and a daughter.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1941; B.M.J., 1941; Times, 9 July 1941]

(Volume IV, page 514)

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