Hingston, William Hales (DNB12)
HINGSTON, Sir WILLIAM HALES (1829–1907), Canadian surgeon, born at Hinchbrook, Huntingdon, province of Quebec, on 29 June 1829, was eldest son in a family of two sons and two daughters of Lieut.-colonel Samuel James Hingston by his second wife, Eleanor McGrath of Montreal. His father, an Irish Roman catholic, was lieutenant-colonel in the Canadian militia. After the disbanding of the troops at the conclusion of the war of 1812 he settled upon a grant of land at Hinchbrook. As a pioneer he was unsuccessful, and died deep in debt in 1831. Hingston was educated at a grammar school in Huntingdon, kept by John (afterwards Sir John) Rose, and then at the Montreal College of St. Sulpice (1842-3). In 1844 he became apprentice to R. W. Rexford, chemist, at Montreal, and managed to save sufficient from his small earnings as a clerk to obtain a medical training without other assistance. In 1847 he entered McGill University in the medical faculty; he graduated in pharmacy at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Lower Canada in 1849, and took a degree at the university in 1851. The same year he went to Edinburgh and studied imder (Sir) James Young Simpson [q. v.] and James Syme [q. v.]. Simpson showed Hingston the rare mark of confidence of taking his pupil with him on his visits to private patients. He was made L.R.C.S. Edin. in 1852. From Edinburgh Hingston passed to St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London, and thence for a few months to Dublin, where he worked under Stokes, Corrigan, and Graves. Having acquired a fair knowledge of German he next proceeded for two years to the Continent, where he engaged in medical study in Paris, Berlin, Heidelberg, and Vienna. Although Simpson urged him to remain at Edinburgh as his personal assistant, Hingston began practice in Montreal in 1854.
During the second year of his practice he faced a cholera epidemic with heroic self-sacrifice, and won the devotion of poor Irish emigrants. In 1860 he was nominated to the staff of the Hotel Dieu. On his first patient there he successfully performed for the first time in Canada the new operation of resection of a diseased joint. In 1865 he, with a few others, was instrumental in reviving the Montreal Medico-Chirurgical Society, of which he became president, and he founded the Women's Hospital. He remained on the active staff of the Women's Hospital till its amalgamation with the new Western Hospital, of which he was a charter member and consulting surgeon and chairman of the medical board. In 1867 he revisited Edinburgh, and Sir James Simpson gave him an opportunity of proving his operative skill. In 1873 he was made dean of the medical faculty at Bishop's College, and in 1878 professor of clinical surgery at Laval University. He was president of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Quebec in 1886. Hingston, who worked hard to make vaccination compulsory in Montreal, and to improve the public health, won a high reputation as a surgeon possessing courage, decision, and rapidity in operation. In 1872 he removed in one operation, for the first time on record, the tongue and lower jaw. In ovariotomy for cystic and other tumours he was not at first successful, but in 1885 he had a remarkable series of thirteen cases without a death. Hingston failed to master the meticulous routine of modern asepsis. He kept to the last his faith in the old system. His surgical ability was, however, widely acknowledged. In 1892, when the British Medical Association held its annual meeting in Nottingham, he delivered the address on surgery. In 1900 he received the honorary fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of England.
Hingston was prominent in the public life of Montreal. He was mayor of the city in 1875, and was re-elected in 1876 by acclamation, but declined a third term. He was chairman of the board of health of the city and also of the board for the province of Quebec in 1885. He interested himself locally in financial matters, was president in 1875 of the City Passenger Railway Company, which has since become the Montreal Street Railway System, and of the Montreal City and District Savings Bank from 1895, besides being a director of the Montreal Trust and Deposit Company. He was made hon. D.C.L. of Bishop's College, Lennoxville, and hon. LL.D. of Victoria University, Toronto. He was appointed commander of the Roman order of St. Gregory in 1875, and on 24 May 1895 he was knighted. In the same year he was defeated as conservative candidate in Montreal Centre for the House of Commons, but he was appointed to the Senate in 1896.
Hingston, whose Catholicism was uncompromising but not aggressive, died in Montreal on 19 Feb. 1907, and was buried in Mount Royal cemetery. He married on 16 Sept. 1875 Margaret Josephine, daughter of David Alexander Macdonald, lieut.-governor of Ontario. She survived him. They had four sons and one daughter. The eldest son is a Jesuit priest ; the second. Dr. Donald Hingston, is on the surgical staff of the Hotel Dieu. A portrait by J. Colin Forbes is in the possession of the family, and another by Delf osse is at the City and District Savings Bank, Montreal.Hingston published in 1885 'Climate of Canada and its Relation to Life and Health,' and pamphlets on vaccination and other subjects. He was a frequent contributor to professional periodicals.
[The Times, 20 Feb. 1907; Montreal Medical Journal, xxxvi. 194-202; Morgan, Canadian Men and Women of the Timo, 1898; private information.]