Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Rowley, William (1742-1806)

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ROWLEY, WILLIAM (1742–1806), man-midwife, son of William Rowley of St. Luke's, Middlesex, was born in London on 18 Nov. 1742. After apprenticeship at St. Thomas's Hospital he became a surgeon, and served in that capacity in the army from 1760 to 1765, and was at the capture of the Havannah in August 1762. In 1766 he began general practice in London, and on 23 April 1774 was created M.D. at St. Andrews University. He became a licentiate of the College of Physicians of London 25 June 1784. He matriculated from St. Alban Hall, Oxford, on 28 Nov. 1780, aged 38, and there graduated B.A. 9 June 1784, M.A. 24 May 1787, M.B. 17 July 1788, but was refused the degree of M.D. His practice in London was considerable. He describes himself on his title-pages as a man-midwife, and was on the staff of the Queen's Lying-in Hospital, but he also practised ophthalmic surgery and general surgery. In London he first lived in St. James's Street, then in Castle Street, Leicester Fields, then at 66 Harley Street, and finally in Savile Row, where he died of typhus fever on 17 March 1806. He used to give there three courses of lectures in the year, beginning January, April, and September. He wrote on dropsy in 1770, ophthalmia 1771, gonorrhœa 1771, diseases of the breasts 1772, midwifery 1773, sore throat 1778, gout 1780, nervous diseases 1789, scarlet fever 1793, hydrocephalus 1790, mental diseases 1790. In some controversial pamphlets he attacked Dr. William Hunter (1718–1783) [q. v.] for speaking severely of some cure for cancer practised by Rowley, and he wrote against vaccination. He also published a ‘Rational and Improved Practice of Physic in four Volumes,’ and in Latin (2 vols. 4to), ‘Schola Medicinæ Universalis Nova,’ a compendium of the subjects of medical education. His books contain nothing of value, and many of them are mere advertisements. There is an engraved portrait of him.

[Munk's Coll. of Phys. ii. 340; Thornton's Vaccinæ Vindicia, London, 1806; Gent. Mag. 1804 ii. 1224, 1806 i. 294, 377–9; Georgian Era; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886; Index Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon-General's Office, United States Army; Works.]

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