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Biographical entry Cooper, Sir William White (1816 - 1886)

Knight Bachelor designate, 1886; MRCS Dec 21st 1838; FRCS April 17th 1845.

17 November 1816
Holt, Wiltshire, UK
1 June 1886
Fulmer, Buckinghamshire, UK
General surgeon


Born at Holt, Wiltshire, on Nov 17th, 1816. Educated at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. He followed in the footsteps of John Dalrymple, the ophthalmic surgeon, and gained a large practice. He was one of the original staff of the North London Eye Institute, and subsequently Ophthalmic Surgeon to St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington. In 1859 he was appointed Surgeon-Oculist in Ordinary to Queen Victoria (Court Circular, June 2nd, 1886). According to Sir D’Arcy Power, William White Cooper was the last medical man to fight a duel, though the details of the duel are unknown. The last medical duels in India are discussed in an article in the British Medical Journal of Feb 14th, 1925, “Duelling in India” and “Nova et Vetera”.

He died on June 1st, 1886, at Fulmer, Bucks. On May 29th, Queen Victoria, whose personal regard he had won, had announced her intention of making him a Knight Bachelor. She directed that his wife should be entitled to the honour and precedence of Dame Cooper, although he had not been dubbed. He left three sons and two daughters. The eldest and third son entered the medical profession, the second son qualified as an architect. There is a wood engraving of Cooper from a daguerrotype by Mayall in the Medical Circular of 1853.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Dict. Nat. Biog. sub nomine et auct. ibi cit. Court Circular, June 2nd, 1886. Personal knowledge].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England