William Hewson (surgeon)

William Hewson (surgeon)

Infobox Scientist
name =William Hewson
box_width =

image_size =150px
caption =William Hewson
birth_date = November 14, 1739
birth_place = Hexham
death_date = May 1, 1774
death_place =
residence = |citizenship =
nationality = United Kingdom
ethnicity =
field = surgeon
work_institutions =
alma_mater =
doctoral_advisor =
doctoral_students =
known_for =
author_abbrev_bot =|author_abbrev_zoo =
influences =
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prizes = Copley Medal
religion = |footnotes = |

William Hewson (November 14, 1739May 1, 1774) was an 18th Century surgeon, anatomist and physiologist who has sometimes been referred to as the 'father of haematology'.

Born Hexham, he initially studied in 1753 at the Newcastle Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne (which later became the Royal Victoria Infirmary) under its founder Richard Lambert and much later in the winter of 1761/1762 in Edinburgh and was a student, and later an assistant, of William Hunter. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1770.

His major contribution was in isolating fibrin, a key protein in the blood coagulation process. He also contributed work on the lymphatic system by showing the existence of lymph vessels in animals and explaining their function (work for which he was awarded the Copley Medal by the Royal Society in 1769), and demonstrated that red blood cells were flat rather than spherical as had been previously supposed by Anton van Leeuwenhoek. In 1773 he produced evidence for the concept of a cell membrane in red blood cells - however, this last work was largely ignored.

On 10th July 1770 he married Mary Stevenson (better known as Polly), a London friend of Benjamin Franklin. From September 1772 he ran an anatomy school at 36 Craven Street, where Franklin lodged in London (which is now the Benjamin Franklin House museum).

In 1998, workmen restoring the London home (Benjamin Franklin House) dug up the remains of six children and four adults hidden below the home. The Times reported on February 11, 1998:

Initial estimates are that the bones are about 200 years old and were buried at the time Franklin was living in the house, which was his home from 1757 to 1762 and from 1764 to 1775. Most of the bones show signs of having been dissected, sawn or cut. One skull has been drilled with several holes. Paul Knapman, the Westminster Coroner, said yesterday: "I cannot totally discount the possibility of a crime. There is still a possibility that I may have to hold an inquest."

The Friends of Benjamin Franklin House (the organization responsible for the restoration of Franklin's house at 36 Craven Street in London) note that the bones were likely placed there by William Hewson, who lived in the house for 2 years. They note that Franklin likely knew what Hewson was doing. [http://www.benjaminfranklinhouse.org/site/sections/news/pdf/Issue2.pdf]

He died on May 1, 1774 as a result of sepsis contracted whilst dissecting a cadaver.

Hewson's work was continued after his death by Magnus Falconar, who had married Hewson's sister Dorothy in September 1774. Falconar repeated Hewson's experiments on the spleen and thymus and as a result re-published Hewson's work on red blood cells in 1777 together with his corroboration.


Further reading

*cite web
title=William Hewson
publisher=Encyclopedia Britannica Online

*cite web
title=William Hewson's studies of red blood corpuscles and the evolving concept of a cell membrane.
publisher=American Journal of Physiology
date=July 1996

External links

* [http://www.amphilsoc.org/library/mole/b/bradford.htm 'Bradford Collection' page of the American Philosophical Society]
* [http://www.rcpe.ac.uk/library/exhibitions/blood_types/blood_types.php http://www.rcpe.ac.uk/library/exhibitions/blood_types/blood_types.php]
* [http://www.bloodjournal.org/cgi/reprint/21/4/513.pdf Article by William Demeshek about Hewson] (PDF).
* [http://www.pbs.org/wnet/redgold/innovators/bio_hewson.html http://www.pbs.org/wnet/redgold/innovators/bio_hewson.html]
* [http://www.ncl.ac.uk/nsa/tl1.htm Newcastle Infirmary time-line]

Further Information

*'William Hewson (1739–74): the father of haematology', article in the British Journal of Haematology, May 2006

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