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Biographical entry Dalby, Sir William Bartlett (1840 - 1918)

Knight Bachelor 1886; MRCS May 22nd 1867; FRCS Dec 8th 1870; MA MB Cantab 1866.

Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, UK
29 December 1918
London, UK
ENT surgeon


Born at Ashby-de-la-Zouch and came of an old Leicestershire family. He was educated at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, and at St George's Hospital, where as resident he occupied rooms in the Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner. He practised first in Chester, but finding his life uncongenial, returned to London, bent on studying diseases of the ear. To this only a few medical men were at that time devoted, the chief being Toynbee, Allen, and Hinton, who had almost a monopoly of aural practice. Dalby became assistant to James Hinton, then practising as an aural surgeon in Savile Row, and succeeded to the practice on Hinton's death in 1874. He soon began to make a large practice, and was a pioneer in the education of the deaf and dumb by means of lip-reading and articulation. He published a book with this title in 1872, and another On the Educational Treatment of Incurably Deaf Children in 1880. For his educational labours Dalby received a knighthood in 1886. In 1872 he became Aural Surgeon to St George's Hospital, this being the first time any such appointment was made. His practice steadily increased; in the twenty years from 1875 to 1895 it was very large, and in the eighties his waiting-room was overfull. Dalby was a link between the periods of non-operative and operative aural surgery; he never performed the complete mastoid operation, though he was one of the first to remove exostoses from the external auditory meatus by means of a dental drill.

Sir William Dalby was a man of fashion, well dressed, a clubman, fond of society, literature, and the arts. He retired from practice soon after reaching the age of 60, and died at his London residence, 14 Montague Place, on Dec 29th, 1918. By his marriage in 1878 with Hyacinthe, the daughter of Major Edward Wellesley, he had two sons and three daughters. The eldest son was drowned in a boating accident at Sandhurst; the second was seriously wounded in the Great War. He was survived by his widow, his son, and three married daughters.

His portrait accompanies his life in the Provincial Medical Journal, 1894; it is also in the College Collections and the Vanity Fair Album.

Early in 1923 Lady Dalby handed to the Royal Society of Medicine the sum of £500, the interest on which, after accumulating for five years, was to form the Dalby Memorial Prize to be awarded to the person who during that period has done or published the best original work for the advancement of otology.

Lectures on Diseases and Injuries of the Ear, 12mo, London, 1873; 4th ed., 1893.
The Education of the Deaf and Dumb by means of Lip-reading and Articulation, 8vo, London, 1872.
On the Educational Treatment of Incurably Deaf Children, 8vo, London, 1880.
"On the Influence of the Study of Science upon the Mind: Being the Introductory Address delivered at St George's Hospital on 1st October, 1879," 8vo, London, 1879; reprinted from Lancet, 1879, ii, 525.
Article on "Diseases of the Ear" in Holmes and Hulke's Surgery, 3rd ed., 1883. Article on "Diseases of the Ear" in Quain's Dictionary of Medicine.
He edited Oscar Dodd's translation of 3rd ed of Adam Politzer's Lehrbuch der Ohrenheilkunde, 8vo, illustrated, London, 1894.
"Short Contributions to Aural Surgery," 8vo, London, 1887; reprinted from Lancet, 1875-86.
The same. Reprinted from Lancet, 1875-89, and the Brit. Med. Jour.; 2nd ed., 8vo, London, 1890.
The same. From Lancet, 1875-96, 8vo, 3 illustrations, London, 1896.
"Bubble Remedies in Aural Surgery," 8vo, London, 1891; reprinted from Lancet, 1891, i, 815.
"Foreign Bodies and Osseous Growths in the External Auditory Canal, including Neoplastic Closure" in System of Diseases of the Ear, Nose, etc. Philadelphia, 1893.
"Strange Incidents in Practice," 12mo, London, 1893; reprinted from Lancet, 1893, i, 240.
"Dr Chesterfield's Letters to his Son on Medicine as a Career," 12mo, London, 1894; reprinted from Longman's Magazine. This contains amusing and rather cynical advice to a medical student.
"Non-purulent Catarrh of Middle Ear." - Trans Med.-Chir. Soc., 1873, lvi, 1.
"Diseases of Mastoid Bone." - Ibid., 1878, lxii, 233.
"Cases in which Perforation of the Mastoid Cells is Necessary." - Ibid., 1885, lxviii, 115.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England