Obituary Of Dr. William Sedgwick Saunders

Posted: November 9, 2008 in Obituaries
Dr. William Sedgwick Saunders testified at the inquest of Catherine Eddowes, murdered by Jack the Ripper on September 30, 1888.  
 
 
OBITUARY
 
WILLIAM SEDGWICK SAUNDERS,
L.R.C.P. EDIN., M.R.C.S., F.I.C.
 
The announcement of the death of Dr. Sedgwick Saunders, M.O.H. for the City of London, will be received with great regret by all who knew him. After an illness of many months he succumbed to an attack of pneumonia on January 19th, at his residence in Onslow Gardens, South Kensington.
William Sedgwick Saunders was born in 1824 at Compton Giffard, Devonshire, where his family had resided for many years. He received his early education at King’s College, and at the age of 19 entered St. Thomas’s Hospital, where he obtained many distinctions. In 1846 he commenced private practice, but his active temperament caused him to seek for a more adventurous life, and he accordingly entered the army as an Assistant Surgeon. He was gazetted to the Royal Fusiliers, and served with them in the West Indies and North America. Four years later he returned to England, and was appointed to the Military Hospital, Fort Clarence, Rochester.
In 1851 he was ordered to the Kaffir war, and sailed in the Birkenhead. A serious illness, which necessitated his being landed at the first port of call, saved him from the fate of all on board that unlucky vessel.
On his recovery he commenced private practice in the City of London, and taking an active interest in civic affairs became a Common Councilman. In the Court he soon became a prominent member, holding many important offices with dignity and credit. To him mainly is due the Guildhall Library, and as chairman of the Library Committee it fell to his lot to lay the foundation stone.
In 1874, on the resignation of Dr. Letheby, Dr. Saunders was appointed Medical Officer of Health and Analyst to the City of London, defeating in his candidature Dr. Tidy and Dr. Evans. From that time till his death he was prominently before the public as an earnest and zealous worker in sanitation. Though genial and courteous to all, he was fearless in his opinions and conduct, and ever refused to compromise where he felt his position right.
His well-known views on tuberculosis so recently expressed (and somewhat unfairly criticised from a want of knowledge of the conditions under which they were formulated) is a good instance of his unflinching attitude. He was feared by those who were opposed to him, beloved by his colleagues, and respected by all who came in contact with him. His strong individuality has left an enduring mark upon the organisation of the City, and his death has caused a gap which will not readily be filled.
 
Source: The British Medical Journal, Jan. 26, 1901, pp. 248-9
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