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Biographical entry Haslam, William Frederic (1856 - 1932)

MRCS 22 May 1878; FRCS 8 December 1881; LSA 1878; MB ChB Birmingham 1909.

24 August 1856
18 February 1932
Anatomist and General surgeon


Born 24 August 1856 at 4 Friar Street, Reading, the son of James Haslam, a land and estate agent and auctioneer, and Catherine Clarke his wife. He was educated at Amersham Hall School, Caversham, and at Marlborough Grammar School, and was early apprenticed to a surgeon on the staff of the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading. Entering St Thomas's Hospital, London, on 1 October 1874 he acted as prosector in 1875-76 and in that year gained the first College prize. In 1876-77 he was appointed, whilst yet a student, assistant demonstrator of anatomy, and was selected as a prosector at the Royal College of Surgeons on account of the beauty of his dissections. He also gained the Cheselden medal for anatomy and surgery. He acted as house surgeon in 1878-79 and was afterwards non-resident house physician. During 1879-82 he was demonstrator of anatomy in the medical school of St Thomas's, and served as resident accoucheur in the Hospital in 1881. Later in this year he acted as assistant medical officer at the Deptford Fever Hospital.

He was appointed assistant surgeon at the Birmingham General Hospital, in February 1882, becoming surgeon in 1891, and consulting surgeon in 1914. At Queen's College, Birmingham, he was appointed medical tutor in 1883, and acted as demonstrator of anatomy 1884-92. When the University of Birmingham was established he was appointed the first lecturer in applied anatomy, a post he occupied for eight years. In the University, too, he lectured on surgery to dental students 1908-13, and was joint professor of surgery 1913-19. On his retirement from the chair of surgery in 1919 he was appointed dean of the Faculty of Medicine, and began again to lecture on applied anatomy; during 1919-28 he taught osteology to the first year students, and spent the greater part of his working day in the dissecting room.

At the Royal College of Surgeons of England he was examiner in anatomy 1891-99 and 1919-24. He was a member of the Court of Examiners 1903-13, and a member of Council 1908-24, being a vice- president in 1917-18. He married on 2 October 1888 Amy, daughter of Lewis Cooper, of Caversham Hill, Reading, but there were no children. He died on 18 February 1932 after a long illness and was buried at the Lodge Hill Cemetery, Selly Oak, Birmingham.

Haslam was certainly the best beloved teacher of his generation in Birmingham. On the occasion of his retirement in 1928 he was presented by his colleagues and friends with a silver tray and a cheque as a mark of their affection, and during his life time a "Haslam Oration" was founded by the Birmingham Medical Society. The first Oration was delivered by Dr J C Brash, his successor in the chair of anatomy 3 February 1930. He was humble-minded, versatile, absolutely trustworthy and always ready to help a colleague by sound advice, or by taking place temporarily in the lecture room or operating theatre. He was perhaps, one of the last surgeons to base his surgery upon a profound study of anatomy.

A review of the operations for stone in the male bladder. The Lettsomian lectures, 6 and 20 February and 5 March 1911. Trans Med Soc Lond. 1911, 34, 145, etc.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times, 23 February 1932, p 16c; Lancet, 1932, 1, 489; Brit med J. 1932, 1, 453, with portrait, a good likeness; Birm med Rev. 1930, 5, 146; Queen's med Mag. 1932, 29, 116; personal knowledge; information given by his niece, Miss Lucy A Haslam].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England