Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry Meredith, William Appleton (1848 - 1916)

MRCS July 27th 1871; FRCS (elected as a Member of twenty years' standing) April 8th 1897; MB, CM Edin 1872; JP.

New York
5 October 1916
King's Lynn, Norfolk
General surgeon


Born in New York, the son of Samuel Ogden Meredith, of Philadelphia; accompanied his father to Europe, was educated at Boulogne-sur-Mer, acquiring a thorough knowledge of French, and later, in 1886, became naturalized as a British subject. He studied Medicine at University College Hospital, where he was House Surgeon to Sir John Erichsen, and served as Resident Medical Officer. He completed his studies at Edinburgh, where he was Resident Medical Officer at the Infirmary. There he attracted the attention of Lister and of his House Surgeon, Knowsley Thornton, and when, at Lister's suggestion, Thornton came to London to assist Sir Spencer Wells, Meredith followed. Later Meredith succeeded Thornton as Assistant to Spencer Wells, whilst also helping Erichsen and administering anaesthetics for him. Thoroughly versed in Lister's methods, Meredith succeeded Wells and Thornton as a successful ovariotomist, extremely careful to give attention to every detail, although rather slow.

His knowledge of French was most important when attending the Belgian Minister, Baron Van der Weyer, through whom he formed an extensive and important acquaintance. Meredith's results after ovariotomy and hysterectomy were excellent; he followed Lawson Tait in washing out the abdominal cavity and in omitting drainage. But he made no advances himself; indeed, he opposed them. He held to supravaginal hysterectomy over pan-hysterectomy for fibromyoma.

Meredith was a man of fine physique, forceful but genial. His wife was a collector of old furniture and plate. They first had a country house in Hertfordshire, and afterwards he retired to Massingham Manor, King's Lynn, Norfolk, where he engaged in country pursuits. He also acted as JP for the County.

During the European War, when lighting regulations were in force during the air-raid period, he was informed that light was visible at the upper part of his house. On going up to inspect a skylight, he slipped and fell twenty feet, being killed instantaneously, on Oct 5th, 1916. Mrs Meredith was a daughter of H Atkinson Green, of Boston, Massachusetts. Their son, who was a member of the First Expeditionary Force, was invalided home, severely wounded; early in 1915.

Meredith's publications relate to ovariotomy and hysterectomy between 1884 and 1897, eg, "Some Points affecting the Mortality of Abdominal Section, Tabulated Record of 125 Cases." - Med-Chir Trans, 1889, lxxii, 31.
"An Address on the Present Position of Abdominal Surgery." - Med Soc Trans, 1890, xiii, 398.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Lancet, 1916, ii, 727. Brit Med Jour, 1916, 542].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England