Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement/Jenner, William

JENNER, Sir WILLIAM, first baronet (1815–1898), physician, born on 30 Jan. 1815 at Chatham, was the fourth son of John Jenner, afterwards of St. Margaret's, Rochester, and of Elizabeth, his wife, the only daughter of George Terry. He received his medical education at University College, London, and was apprenticed to a surgeon living in Upper Baker Street, Regent's Park. He was admitted a licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries on 6 July 1837, and a member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England on 29 Aug. 1837. He then commenced general practice at 12 Albany Street, Regent's Park, and graduated M.D. at the university of London in 1844.

At the beginning of 1847 Jenner began a detailed study of the cases of continued fever admitted to the London Fever Hospital, where he made notes of a thousand cases of acute disease. The result of the investigation of these cases was, in his own words, 'to prove incontestably, so far as induction can prove the point, that the specific causes of typhus and typhoid fevers are absolutely different from each other, and to render in the highest degree probable that the specific cause of relapsing fever is different from that of either of the two former.'

In 1849 he was appointed professor of pathological anatomy at University College, London, and later in the same year he became an assistant physician to University College Hospital, succeeding to the office of full physician in 1854. This post he resigned in 1876, and he was elected a consulting physician in 1879. In 1856 he was nominated physician in charge of the skin department of University College Hospital. At University College he acted as substitute for Dr. Edmund Alexander Parkes [q. v.], the Holme professor of clinical medicine, during his absence at the Crimean war, 1855-6; and when Parkes was appointed professor of hygiene in the army medical school, established at Fort Pitt, Chatham, in 1860, Jenner was confirmed in the chair of Holme professor at University College. From 1863 to 1872 he was professor of the principles and practice of medicine at University College. From 1853 to 1861 he held the office of physician to the London Fever Hospital, and from 1852 to 1862 he was physician to the Hospital for Sick Children in Great Ormond Street.

Jenner was elected a member of the Royal College of Physicians in 1848, and a fellow in 1852. He delivered the Gulstonian lectures in 1853, on 'Acute Specific Diseases;' he was a councillor in 1865-6-7, censor in 1870-1 and in 1880, Harveian orator (for Dr. Parkes) in 1876, and president from March 1881 to March 1888. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1864, and was created hon. D.C.L. Oxford on 22 June 1870, hon. LL.D. Cantab. 1880, and hon. LL.D. Edin. 1884. He was president of the Epidemiological Society 1866-8, of the Pathological Society of London 1873-5, and of the Clinical Society in 1875.

He was appointed physician extraordinary to Queen Victoria in 1861 upon the death of Dr. William Baly (1814-1861) [q. v.] In 1862 Jenner became physician in ordinary to the queen, and in 1863 he was appointed physician in ordinary to the prince of Wales. He attended the prince consort during the attack of typhoid which caused his death in December 1861, and the prince of Wales during an attack of the same fever ten years later. He was created a baronet on 25 Feb. 1868, a K.C.B. in 1872, and a G.C.B. (civil) on 24 May 1889. He was also a commander of the order of Leopold of Belgium.

Jenner retired from practice in 1890 owing to ill-health, and died at Greenwood, near Bishop's Waltham, Hants, on 11 Dec. 1898. He is buried at Durley, a village near his residence. A three-quarter-length oil portrait of Sir William Jenner in his robes as president of the Royal College of Physicians, painted by Frank Holl, R.A., is in the possession of Lady Jenner. A copy by Val Prinsep, R.A., hangs in the common room of the Royal College of Physicians in Pall Mall, London. He married in 1858 Adela Lucy Leman, second daughter of Stephen Adey, esq., by whom he had five sons and a daughter.

Sir William Jenner's claim to recognition lies in the fact that by a rigid examination, clinical as well as post mortem, of thirty-six patients he was able to substantiate the suspicion of the great French physician Louis that under the name of continued fever the English physicians had long confounded two entirely different diseases, to one of which Louis gave the name of typhus, to the other typhoid. The credit of drawing this distinction belongs, among others, to Dr. Gerhard and Dr. Shatnaak in America, to Dr. Valleix in France, and to Dr. Alexander Patrick Stewart [q. v.] in Great Britain, but their work was contested, while, since the publication of Jenner's papers, the identity of the two conditions has never been seriously maintained.

Jenner's robust common sense, his sound knowledge of his profession, his kindliness to patients, and his somewhat autocratic manner, made him acceptable to all classes, and enabled him to acquire so lucrative a practice that he left behind him a fortune of 375,000l. The failing health of Sir James Clark threw upon him the chief immediate care of the queen's health soon after his appointment as physician in ordinary, and for more than thirty years he proved himself not only a most able physician, but a true and devoted friend of Queen Victoria, who deeply mourned his loss.

Jenner's papers on typhoid and typhus fevers were published in the 'Monthly Journal of Medical Science' (Edinburgh and London) for 1849, and in the 'Transactions of the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society,' 1850, vol. xxxiii. The latter paper was received on 20 Nov., and read on 11 Dec. 1849, the author being introduced by Dr. William Sharpey [q. v.]

Jenner also published:

  1. 'On the Identity and Non-identity of Typhoid Fever,' London, 1850, 8vo; translated into French, Brussels, in two parts, 1852-3.
  2. 'Diphtheria, its Symptoms and Treatment,' London, 1861, 12mo.
  3. 'Lectures and Essays on Fevers and Diphtheria, 1849-79,' London, 1893, 8vo.
  4. 'Clinical Lectures and Essays on Rickets, Tuberculosis, Abdominal Tumours, and other Subjects,' London, 1895, 8vo.

[British Medical Journal, 1898, ii. 1851; Transactions of the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society, 1899, vol. lxxxii.; Royal Society's Yearbook, 1900, p. 183; private information.]

D’A. P.