Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hamilton, William (1758-1790)

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HAMILTON, WILLIAM (1758–1790), surgeon, born at Glasgow 31 July 1758, was the son of Thomas Hamilton, professor of anatomy and botany, by Isabel Anderson, daughter of a former professor of church history. From the grammar school he went to Glasgow College in 1770, and graduated MA. in 1775. He studied medicine for two years at Edinburgh, and afterwards in London, under William Hunter, who took him into his house and gave him charge of his dissecting-room. In 1780 he returned to Glasgow, and conducted his invalid father's anatomical class. Next year he was appointed, on the recommendation of William Hunter, to his father's chair. On the death of the latter, in 1782, he succeeded to a large surgical practice, to which he added obstetrics. He was in constant request as a consultant, his anatomical knowledge and obstetric skill being highly valued by his colleagues and old pupils. He is credited with smooth manners towards patients, with benevolence to the poor, and with circumspection in public affairs. He kept notes of his cases, intending to write a system of surgery. He died on 13 March 1790, after a tedious illness brought on by overwork. He. published nothing; but his biographer has preserved four specimens of his accurate method (on treatment of inversio uteri, on dislocations of the shoulder, on hydrothorax, and on a form of hernia). He married, in 1783, Elizabeth Stirling, by whom he had two sons, Sir William (1788–1856) [q. v.] and Thomas (1789–1842) [q. v.]

[Memoir by Cleghorn in Trans. Royal Soc. Edinb. vol. iv., Appendix, p. 35.]

C. C.