Lives of the fellows

William Henry Williams

b.? d.8 November 1841
MB Cantab(1803) MD(1811) FRCP(1817)

William Henry Williams, M.D., was born in Gloucestershire, and, after a good school education, applied himself to the study of physic, which he pursued first at the Bristol infirmary, and then in London at St. Thomas’s and Guy’s hospitals. He became surgeon to the East Norfolk militia, and as such saw much home service. In 1795, when that regiment was encamped near Deal castle, he was appointed the senior of a number of surgeons, to whom was deputed the charge of several hundred Russian sailors suffering from malignant fever and dysentery.

About 1797 he designed a tourniquet of such simplicity and efficiency, that it was at once adopted by the authorities, and named "Williams’ Field Tourniquet," by the Army Medical Board in the printed directions for its use. It was ordered by the commander-in-chief, the Duke of York, to be employed in every regiment in the king’s service both at home and abroad; and that non-commissioned officers, drummers, and musicians should be instructed in the use of it agreeably to the plan suggested by the inventor, so that in a regiment of one thousand men not less than one hundred and twenty individuals would be enabled to apply this tourniquet in losses of blood from the sword, the bayonet, or from gun-shot wounds. Before this, no regiment had more than two or four tourniquets, and none but the surgeon and assistant-surgeons were competent to apply it. About this time he entered himself at Caius college, Cambridge, and, as a member of that house, proceeded M.B. 1803, and M.D. 12th September, 1811.

Some years before this Dr. Williams had settled at Ipswich, and in 1810 was appointed by Sir Lucas Pepys the physician-general of the army, to the charge of the South Military hospital close by Ipswich, then filled with soldiers just returned from Walcheren, and suffering with fevers, ague, and dysentery. On the completion of his service there he received a flattering letter from the Army Medical Board.(1) Dr. Williams was admitted a Candidate of the College of Physicians 30th September, 1816, and a Fellow 30th September, 1817. He continued to reside at Ipswich, where he was universally respected; but he died at Sandgate, co. Kent, whither he had gone for the benefit of his health, on the 8th November, 1841.

Dr. Williams was the author of—
Hints on the Ventilation of Army Hospitals, and on Regimental Practice. 8vo. 1798.
A Concise Treatise on the Progress of Medicine since the year 1573. 8vo. 1804.
Animadversions on certain Cases of Consumption and Dropsy treated by the Foxglove. 8vo. 1807.
General Directions for the Recovery of Persons apparently dead from Drowning. 12mo. 1808.
Pharmacopoeia Valetudinarii Gippovicensis. 12mo. 1814.
Observations on Dr. Wilson’s Tinctures, the Eau Medicinale, and other pretended Specifics for Gout. 4to. 1818.

William Munk

[(1) Clarke, G. R., History and Description of Ipswich. 8vo. Ipswich, 1830, p. 488, et seq.]

(Volume III, page 169)

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