Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Baly, William

BALY, WILLIAM, M.D. (1814–1861), physician, was born at King's Lynn, Norfolk, in 1814, and educated in the grammar school there. In 1831 he entered as a pupil University College, London, and in 1832 St. Bartholomew's Hospital. In 1834, after passing the College of Surgeons and the Apothecaries' Hall, Baly went to Paris, after a winter's study there, to Heidelberg, and thence to Berlin, where he graduated M.D. in 1836. On his return to England he started in practice in Vigo Street, London, removing subsequently to Devonshire Street, and finally to Brook Street. In 1840, he reported on the state of the Millbank Penitentiary, and in 1841 he was appointed physician to that establishment. He often acted as a principal adviser of the government on the hygiene of prisons. The chief results of his studies at the prison are comprised in his numerous reports, but more especially in an elaborate paper on the 'Diseases of Prisons' in vol. xxviii. of the 'Medico-Chirurgical Transactions,' and in his 'Gulstonian Lectures on Dysentery,' 1847. In addition to the minute knowledge which these lectures show of dysentery proper, they prove that Baly was the first to observe the fact that dysenteric sloughs in the large intestine may be associated with the true ulcers of enteric fever in the small intestine. To the same studies also may be referred much of the knowledge displayed in his 'Report on Cholera,' written at the desire of the College of Physicians. In 1841 Dr. Baly became lecturer on forensic medicine at St. Bartholomew's Hospital. In 1846 he was admitted a fellow of the College of Physicians, and in 1847 a fellow of the Royal Society. In 1854 he became assistant-physician to St. Bartholomew's Hospital, and in 1855, in conjunction with Dr. (now Sir) George Burrows, lecturer on medicine there. In 1859, when a physician was required who might share with Sir James Clark the office of regular attendant on the queen and royal family, Dr. Baly was selected as the fittest person. Afterwards he discharged the duties of censor of the College of Physicians, and he was nominated to a seat on the medical council as one of the representatives of the crown in the place of Sir James Clark. Dr. Baly had come to be regarded as one of the brightest ornaments of the medical profession when his career was brought to a sudden and tragical end, for on 28 Jan. 1861 he was crushed to death in a railway accident on the South-Western line near Wimbledon.

Besides the above-mentioned works he published:

  1. A translation from the German of Müller's 'Elements of Physiology,' 2 vols. 1837.
  2. 'Recent Advances in the Physiology of Motion, the Senses, Generation, and Development. Being a supplement to the 2nd vol. of Professor Müller's "Elements of Physiology,"' London, 1848, 8vo (conjointly with William Senhouse Kirkes).
  3. 'Reports on Epidemic Cholera,' 2 parts, London, 1854, 8vo (conjointly with Dr. (now Sir) W. W. Gull).

[Lancet, i. 122, 147; Annual Register, 1861, chronicle 13; Cat. of Printed Books in Brit. Mus.]

T. C.