Blizard, William (DNB00)

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BLIZARD, Sir WILLIAM (1743–1835), surgeon, was born at Barn Elms in Surrey in 1743, and was the fourth child of William Blizard, an auctioneer. He received little school education, and after apprenticeship to a surgeon at Mortlake came to study at the London Hospital, also attending the lectures of Pott at St. Bartholomew's Hospital (Hunterian Oration, 1816). In 1780 he was appointed surgeon to the London Hospital, and in 1785, in conjunction with Dr. Maclaurin, founded the medical school there. The opening was celebrated by him in an ode, and on most of the important occasions of his life Blizard expressed himself in verse, which, had he been longer contemporary with Pope, would have certainly secured him a place in the 'Dunciad.' He lectured in the medical school on anatomy, physiology, and surgery. Abernethy attended his earlier lectures, and speaks of them with respect. As a hospital surgeon Blizard was famous for scrupulous attention to his duties in the wards, and he gave much time to the improvement of the London Hospital. He was often laughed at for the importance which he attached to learned diction and ceremonial observance (Lancet, 1824, iii. 19). The College of Surgeons had a house in Cock Lane, where the bodies of criminals just executed at Newgate were delivered to be anatomised. Sir William Blizard, when president of the College of Surgeons, attended at this house in full court dress to receive the bodies from the hangman; and the contrast between the president's elaborate costume and formal manner and the surly shabbiness of the executioner is described by an eyewitness (Sir R. Owen) as having made the ghastly scene almost ludicrous. Blizard was elected F.R.S. in 1787, and was twice president of the College of Surgeons. He published a paper on lachrymal fistula in the 'Philosophical Transactions' 1780, and several other medical papers (London Medical Journal, 1789-90); 'Experiments on the Danger of Copper and Bell Metal in Pharmaceutical Preparations,' 1780; 'Suggestions for the Improvement of Hospitals,' 1790. 'A Popular Lecture on the Situation of the large Blood-vessels and the Methods of making effectual Pressure on them,' 1780, is the most lucid of his works, and went through several editions. None of his writings are of permanent value. BLis practice was considerable, and he used for many years to attend regularly at Batson's Coffee House in Cornhill at a certain hour to await consultations, being probably the last survivor of this method of practice. In his youth he wrote on politics in a revolutionary spirit, under the nom de plume of Curtius, but he afterwards became an admirer of Mr. Pitt and adopted conservative opinions. Blizard was an example of hereditary longevity. His father and mother had both lived to eighty-six, and one of his grandmothers to ninety, while he himself died at the age of ninety-two on 27 Aug. 1836. He was buried in Brixton Church. There is a portrait of him by Opie at the Royal College of Surgeons.

[Blizard's Works; Cooke's Memoir, London, 1836.]

N. M.