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Biographical entry Nicholson, William Francis (1909 - 2002)

MBE; MRCS 1933; FRCS 1935; MB BChir Cambridge 1933; MA 1935; MD MChir 1938.

6 September 1909
30 August 2002
General surgeon and Thoracic surgeon


Frank Nicholson was a senior surgeon at Manchester Royal Infirmary. He was born in Cheshire on 6 September 1909, the son of Charles James Nicholson, a cotton merchant. Educated at St Bee's School, Cumbria, he had a distinguished academic record before proceeding to St Catherine's College, Cambridge, for his pre-clinical studies. He chose to return North to Manchester for his clinical course. After qualification, he spent his early posts in Manchester Royal Infirmary, after which he went to the USA, where he spent a year at Washington University, St Louis.

He married Rosabelle Gough on 27 July 1939 and had two children, Roger - also a Cambridge graduate - who is a paediatrician in Ontario, Canada, and a daughter, Jane, who is a psychotherapist at Manchester Royal Infirmary.

From 1940 to 1945 he served in the RAMC in Egypt, Palestine, Tripoli, Sicily and Italy, where he was chest surgeon to the 8th Army, reaching the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He was awarded a military MBE and was twice mentioned in despatches. He wrote four papers from 1944 to 1946 on his surgical experiences, later his publications reflected his interests in general thoracic surgery (1948 to 1960) and then in thyroid and parathyroid disorders (from 1960 to 1973).

Appointed as an honorary surgeon to the Manchester Northern Hospital in 1946, he retained this as his main appointment until the inception of the NHS, when he was appointed surgeon to the Manchester Royal Infirmary. He held this post until his retirement in 1974, when he did locums on St Helena. Because of his interest in thoracic surgery, he was appointed as a thoracic surgeon for the whole of this period by the regional board. For many years he was an internal examiner at Manchester and also for the Royal College of Surgeons of England in the primary FRCS.

He was active in many surgical societies, being President of the Manchester Surgical Society in 1963, the Medical Society in 1971 and was also active in the Association of Surgeons and the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, and regularly attended meetings of the Travelling Surgical Society of Great Britain and Northern Ireland with his wife.

He was an accomplished viola player, and continued to hone his skills in retirement, in addition to tending his garden. These, and fly fishing, remained his main hobbies until his death on 30 August 2002.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 2002 325 1041, with portrait; information from Nigel Keddie; Travelling Surgical Society Report].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England