Munk, William (DNB01)

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MUNK, WILLIAM (1816–1898), physician, eldest son of William Munk, an ironmonger, and his wife Jane Kenward, was born on 24 Sept. 1816 at Battle, Sussex, and after education at University College, London, graduated M.D. at Leyden in 1837. He began practice in London in September 1837, and in 1844 he became a licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians of London, and in 1854 a fellow. In 1857 he was elected the Harveian librarian of the college, and held office till his death. In that year he published 'Memoirs of the Life and Writings of J. A. Paris, M.D.'[see Paris, John Ayrton], and in 1861 'The Roll of the Royal College of Physicians of London,' in two volumes. A second edition of this work appeared in 1878 in three volumes, and it is the best general work of reference on the physicians of England. It is exact in its references to the manuscript records of the College of Physicians, and contains much information from other sources, the origin of which is not always indicated, but which is generally valuable. Its bibliography is imperfect and does not show any profound acquaintance with the contents of English medical books, yet almost every subsequent writer on subjects relating to the history of physicians owes something to Dr. Munk. In 1884 he edited 'The Gold-headed Cane' of Dr. William MacMichael [q.v.], and in 1887 published 'Euthanasia, or Medical Treatment in aid of an Easy Natural Death,' and in 1895 'The Life of Sir Henry Halford, Bart., M.D.' The College of Physicians voted him one hundred guineas in consideration of this work. He also published some 'Notæ Harveianæ' in the 'St. Bartholomew's Hospital Reports' (vol. xxii.); and in 1885 'Marvodia,' a genealogical account of the Marwoods, a Devonshire family; and wrote several essays on medical subjects in the 'Lancet.' He was elected physician to the Smallpox Hospital in February 1853, and held office there for forty years. When Prince Arthur (afterwards duke of Connaught) had smallpox at Greenwich in October 1867 he was called in consultation. He long resided at 40 Finsbury Square, London, enjoyed a considerable practice, and there died on 20 Dec. 1898. He was of short stature. His portrait, by the Hon. John Collier, hangs in the dining-room of the Royal College of Physicians, to which, in the last year of his life, it was presented by the fellows in memory of the great service which he had rendered to the college by the publication of the 'Roll.' He became a Roman catholic in 1842, and from 1857 to 1865 was the medical adviser of Cardinal Wiseman. He had much information, and readily imparted it in aid of the studies of others. He admired the College of Physicians, but late in life was inclined to think that in it, and in the world at large, past times were the best. He was for many years an active member of the committee of the London Library. He married, 30 April 1849, Emma, eighteenth child of John Luke of Exeter, and left two sons and three daughters.

[Lancet. 1898, vol. ii.; British Medleal Journal, 1898, vol. ii.; Works; personal knowledge: private information.]

N. M.