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Biographical entry Williams, Gwynne Evan Owen (1881 - 1958)

MRCS 4 August 1903; FRCS 13 December 1906; MB BS London 1903; MD 1905; MS 1906; LRCP 1903.

3 February 1958
General surgeon


Gwynne Williams was born in 1881 at Luton, the son of Herbert Owen Williams JP, a timber merchant, and Edith Jane Edwards his wife. He went from Bedford Grammar School to University College Hospital where he had a brilliant career as a student and a resident; he played rugger for the Hospital and was Treasurer and President of the Medical Society. He came under the influence of Wilfred Trotter, who set him the highest example in surgery and encouraged his independence of outlook and distrust of dogma. He served as assistant medical officer at Lewisham Infirmary and surgical registrar at the Dreadnought Seamen's Hospital, Greenwich. He was appointed assistant surgeon at University College Hospital in 1914, surgeon in 1919, and consulting surgeon when he retired in 1946. He had lived at the Hospital throughout the air raids in the war of 1939-45 in charge of the casualty clearing services, and had previously been responsible for modernising the fracture service; he was probably the first English surgeon to use the Smith-Petersen nailing technique. From 1935 to 1943 he was Dean of the Medical School and Chairman of the Medical Committee.

Gwynne Williams was a Fellow for fifty-one years, and served on the Court of Examiners from 1926 to 1936. In April 1940 he gave six pathology demonstrations at the College. His son David Innes Williams is also a Fellow.

At the British Medical Association he served on the Committee on Medical Schools in 1942-44, and was Vice-President of the surgical section for the annual meeting at Oxford in 1936.

While closely connected with University College Hospital and a Fellow of University College, Williams was also consulting surgeon to the Royal Northern Hospital and the Cheyne Hospital for Children.

He was an excellent teacher, and though bluff and brusque he inspired admiration.

Williams married on 1 September 1914 Cecily Innes of Inverness, who survived him with their three sons, two of whom are medical men: Dr Robert Williams and Mr D I Williams. He practised at 9 Park Square West and lived after retirement at The Old Cottage, Kimpton, Hitchin, Herts. He died in University College Hospital on 3 February 1958 aged 76.

He edited the 22nd edition of Christopher Heath's Minor surgery and treatment of fractures.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 8 February 1958 p 8 e, 11 February p 10 e by T Twistington Higgins, and 18 February p 10 a: memorial service; Lancet 1958, 1, 384 with appreciation by AMHG; Brit med J 1958,1, 403 with portrait and appreciation by HPH, and p 468 by AJG; information from his son David Innes Williams].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England