Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Postman's Park (9): William Freer Lucas


According to his obituary in the British Medical Journal, William Freer Lucas was just 23 years old and acting resident medical officer at the Middlesex Hospital when he died. He had been a promising young man: successful at school, he went on to study medicine at the University of London before entering the Middlesex Hospital in 1888 where he continued to win scholarships and prizes. He was also an athlete and 'his gentlemanly bearing, uprightness, and candour gained for him many friends.'

However, Lucas's early promise was cut short by his death from diphtheria. While he was administering chloroform during a tracheotomy operation on a child with diphtheria, the patient coughed into his face. Four days later, he too had diphtheria which killed him within 10 days.

Lucas's memorial service and burial were well attended by his medical colleagues. The BMJ published a memorial poem written by 'one who was well acquainted with Mr Lucas'; since it is in Latin, I won't reproduce it here. His plaque on the Watts Memorial states:

WILLIAM FREER LUCAS MRCS LLD AT MIDDLESEX HOSPITAL RISKED POISON FOR HIMSELF RATHER THAN LESSEN ANY CHANCE OF SAVING A CHILD'S LIFE AND DIED OCT 8TH 1893.

For all Postman's Park posts, click here.

2 comments:

rashbre said...

Its amazing looking at memorial stones, to see the stories they tell. I was recently at a small graveyard in a tiny town in the wilds of Canada and even there the stories were plain to be read or in some cases the dots could be joined.

Good to have met you yesterday at the bloggy thing.

Best rashbre

CarolineLD said...

Good to have met you too.

Yes, there is something fascinating about memorials - my favourites include one in St Nicholas' Church, Deptford which sets out a sort of balance sheet of donations given by the person memorialised!

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