Lives of the fellows

William Collier

b.1856 d.21 December 1935
MB Cantab(1881) MA MD MA Oxon MRCS LSA FRCP(1892)

William Collier was born at Stapleford, Cambridgeshire, the youngest child of Henry Collier. From Sherborne School he went up to Jesus College, Cambridge, in 1874 without any fixed ambitions for his future. His studies were interrupted when he joined an expedition bound for the Sahara. Seasickness, however, obliged him to abandon his companions at Teneriffe. A chance meeting with Sir G. M. Humphry on his return decided him to follow a medical career, and he entered King’s College, London, after taking a pass degree in 1878 at Cambridge, where his chief distinctions had been to represent the University at athletics in the years 1875-77 and in a fifty-mile " penny-farthing " cycle race in 1876. Collier qualified in 1880 and proceeded to his M.B. in 1881. At King’s College Hospital he acted as dresser to Lister. His first house appointment was at Wolverhampton General Hospital. Then, after briefly sampling general practice at Hastings, he obtained a resident appointment at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford.

Oxford was Collier’s home for the remainder of his life. From 1885 to 1921 he was physician to the Radcliffe Infirmary, and, after 1921, consulting physician. One of his chief services was the inauguration, with the Rev. G. B. Cronshaw, of the Twopenny Contributory Scheme, the first of its kind in a country district, which saved the Infirmary from financial disaster and proved a valuable model for other hospitals. He also held the Litchfield lectureship on medicine for some years and examined in medicine for the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, the Conjoint Board and the Royal Army Medical College. He presided over the B.M.A.’s annual meeting at Oxford in 1904. During the 1914-1918 War he served as a lieutenant-colonel attached to the 3rd Southern General Hospital and as consulting physician to Southern Command. In Oxford he held a position of unrivalled popularity with practitioners and patients. Outside his work he interested himself in the Anti-Noise League. A pioneer motor-cyclist, keen on hunting and mountaineering, he was in everything an enthusiast, a man of strong opinions, argumentative but straightforward.

His wife was Anna, daughter of Rev. Dr. James Legge, professor of Chinese at Oxford. They had three daughters and two sons, of whom one was W. T. Collier, F.R.C.P.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1936; B.M.J., 1936; Al.Cantab., ii, 96]

(Volume IV, page 354)

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