The Times/1939/Obituary/Sir William Prout

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Sir William Prout

Sir William Prout, who died at the Manor House, Lingfield, Surrey, on Saturday, was a specialist in tropical diseases. After long medical experience abroad, and service in the last War as lieutenant-colonel, R.A.M.C., he settled in London, and in 1919 was appointed Senior Medical Adviser to the Colonial Office, and made a ember of the Colonial Office Advisory and Sanitary Committee for Tropical Africa. His position as an expert in tropical medicine was further recognized by his selection for the post of honorary physician to the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Endsleigh Gardens. From 1927 to 1929 he was senior consulting physician to the Colonial Office.

Born in 1862, William Thomas Prout was the son of Mr. William Prout, of Mauritius. After an education at private schools he went to Edinburgh University, where he graduated in medicine in 1884. In the following year he was appointed assistant Poor Law medical officer in Mauritius. He was transferred to the post of assistant colonial surgeon of the Gold Coast in 1888. At the time the administration was confined to the coast belt. There were no signs of the great development which was to result from the opening up of the hinterland the fuller exploitation of the agricultural and mineral resources of the county, so that the revenue of the colony was small and did not admit of great expenditure on public works. Moreover, the discoveries of Manson and Ross with regard to malaria were yet to come. All those circumstances tended to make the rate of mortality among the white officials very high, and Prout had ample opportunity of extending his knowledge of tropical disease. In 1893 he was promoted to be head of the medical department of the Gambia, and during the following year, in the campaign against the slave-raiding chief, Fodi Silla, he was medical officer in charge of the base.

In 1895 Prout received further promotion to the headship of the medical department of Sierra Leone and became an official member of the Legislative Council. He was also a member of the City Council and medical officer of health of Freetown. He served in Sierra Leone until his retirement on pension in 1906. After leaving the Colonial Service Prout settled at first in Liverpool, where he engaged in private practice and was also honorary lecturer at the School of Tropical Medicine of Liverpool University. In 1912 he was appointed medical adviser to the Colonial Office for Liverpool. After the outbreak of the last war he joined the R.A.M.C., being given the rank first of major and the of lieutenant-colonel. He served in Egypt and was mentioned twice in dispatches. His publications included many articles on diseases in the tropics, and in sanitation. In 1905 he was made C.M.G.; in 1919, O.B.E. (military); in 1924 he was created a knight-bachelor, and in 1928 advanced to K.C.M.G. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society in Medicine, London, and formerly president of its Tropical Section; a Fellow of the Royal Medical Society, Edinburgh; and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. In 1888 he married Mary, daughter of Mr. John Mackenzie, of Montrose, and by her he had one son and one daughter. The son was killed in the War.

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