Lives of the fellows

James Arthur Wilson

b.1795 d.29 December 1882
AB Oxon(1815) AM(1818) MB(1819) MD(1823) FRCP(1825)

James Arthur Wilson, M.D., was born in London in 1795, and is the son of Mr. James Wilson, a distinguished surgeon and teacher of anatomy at the Hunterian school in Great Windmill-street, the colleague and successor as such of Dr. Ma tthew Baillie. Dr. Wilson was admitted a king’s scholar of St. Peter’s college, Westminster, in 1808. Elected to Christ church, Oxford, in 1812, he graduated A.B. 6th December, 1815, obtained a first class in the classical and mathematical examinations, and proceeded A.M. 13th May, 1818; M.B. 6th May, 1819, and M.D. 17th May, 1823. He was elected a Radcliffe travelling fellow in June, 1821, and having been nominated to a "Faculty Studentship," remained a student of Christ church. In 1819 and 1820 he was in Italy in medical charge of lord and lady Spencer; and in the early part of 1822 he left England for the continent in compliance with the requirements of his Radcliffe fellowship, and with occasional intervals was abroad for the ensuing five years.

Dr. Wilson was admitted a Candidate of the College of Physicians 12th April, 1824, a Fellow 28th March, 1825, and was Censor in 1828 and 1851. He delivered the Materia Medica lectures at the College in 1829, 1830,1831, 1832; the Lumleian lectures in 1847, 1848, "On Pain," and the Harveian Oration in 1850; the last named one of the most original and noteworthy in matter and in style of any that have been spoken within the present century. Dr. Wilson is one of the very few fellows of the College who at the time I am referring to, lectured on anatomy, a science which, following in the steps of his father, he taught earnestly and well.

To the period of his life when so occupied, and to his "demonstrations" of structure with exposition of its corresponding use, Dr. Wilson in his retirement, and now an octogenarian, looks back with satisfaction, strong in the belief that the human body, with life in or out of it, in its range and completeness of organ and function, is a problem for poet and philosopher, for all time to come. Dr. Wilson was elected physician to St. George’s hospital 29th May, 1829, and resigned that office in 1857.

He has for several years withdrawn from practice and from London, and is now residing at Redland’s bank, South Holmwood, Dorking. Dr. Wilson’s portrait by E. Walker was engraved by W. Walker. Under the signature of Maxilla (J. A. W., the initials of his name), Dr. Wilson contributed to the London Medical Gazette of 1833 a series of characteristic and interesting letters addressed to his friend Vestibulus (Dr. George Hall, of Brighton). These letters are memorable in the history of the College of Physicians; for they struck the key-note for its reform, and were earnestly followed up in the College itself by Dr. Wilson and one or two other fellows for some successive years, until the changes they advocated were conceded.

We have also from his pen a work—
On Spasm, Languor, Palsy, and other disorders termed Nervous, of the Muscular System. 8vo. Lond. 1843.
Oratio Harveiana in Ædibus Collegii Medicorum habita die Junii xxix, mdcccl. 8vo. Lond. 1850.

William Munk

(Volume III, page 302)

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