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Biographical entry Wilson, Alexander (1860 - 1931)

MRCS 23 January 1883; FRCS 12 June 1890; LRCP 1883; DL Co Lancaster.

6 August 1860
23 October 1931


Born 6 August 1860, the son of Alexander Wilson, MD Aberdeen, who was then practising at 223 Lincoln Terrace, Stretford New Road, Manchester. A delicate child, he was sent at an early age to live with Scottish relatives at Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire, where he was taught in the Dryfesdale parish school until 1872. He then returned home and was educated at the Manchester Grammar School, afterwards entering the Owens College for his medical training. He served as house physician and house surgeon at the Manchester Royal Infirmary, and as resident medical officer to its Convalescent Hospital and afterwards to the Children's Hospital, Pendlebury. He married Mary Louisa Raymond Barker in 1884 and went with her to Toronto intending to practise in Canada, but returned to England in 1886 and lived for a short time at Winchester.

He was appointed administrator of anaesthetics to the Manchester Royal Infirmary and to the Victoria Dental Hospital in 1887, posts which he held for twenty years. In 1890 he was elected surgeon to St Luke's Hospital for Venereal Diseases and remained on the active staff until a few months before his death. In 1917 he was placed in charge of the venereal department at the Manchester Royal Infirmary, when it was opened as part of a national scheme organized by the Local Government Board. During the war he was attached to the 2nd Western General Hospital with the rank of major on, 9 July 1915, and was promoted lieutenant-colonel, RAMC (T), 12 December 1918. He was given charge of the venereal clinic at first, but acted later as officer in charge of the Hospital and was rewarded for his services by the appointment of Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Lancaster. When the British Medical Association met in London in 1900 Wilson was a vice-president of the section of anaesthetics, and he filled a similar position during the Manchester meeting in 1929. He was twice married, and died on 23 October 1931 at Victoria Park, Manchester, survived by a daughter.

As an anaesthetist Wilson was skilful, safe, reliable, and gentle. He worked much for Walter Whitehead, when he was doing extensive operations upon the tongue, and for his friend William Thorburn, a pioneer in the surgery of the spinal cord. Wilson was, too, an excellent teacher and trained many successful anaesthetists. In person he was a dapper, well-turned-out man who inspired confidence even in the most nervous patient. He treated his venereal patients merely as sufferers from an infectious disease and quickly gained their confidence, so that they continued to attend until they were cured.

Anaesthetics for children, in Ashby and Wright's Diseases of Children, London, 1889; 5th edition, 1905.
Mechanism of death from chloroform. Lancet, 1894, 2, 1148; 1897, 2, 656; 1898, 1, 123, and 2, 260.
Resuscitation in emergencies under anaesthetics. Lancet, 1898, 1, 369.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1931, 2, 873; information given by Mrs Bond, his daughter, and by Dr E M Brockbank].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England