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Dr William Tyler Smith
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Birth: Apr. 10, 1810
Henbury
Gloucestershire, England
Death: Jun. 2, 1873
Richmond
Surrey, England

Medical Times and Giiette. June 14, IS).
OBITUARY. *
WILLIAM TYLER SMITH, M.D., F.B.C.P.
DB. SMITH was born near Bristol on April 10, 1815, and having
received a good preliminary education, commenced his medical
studies in that city. Ho distinguished himself as a student
both by his talents and acquirements. He married early in
life, and repaired to the metropolis to " seek his fortune,"
and located himself at No. 1, Bolton-street, Piccadilly. In
somewhat straitened circumstances, and without fiiends, he
devoted himself at the commencement to literature and to the
reception of pupils. Like most young physicians in a great
city he had no patients, but he was energetic and ambitious,
and laid out for himself a career of success. He determined
to distinguish himself, and he did so. The most important
element of success was undoubtedly his connexion with the
Lancet. He was introduced to the late Mr. Wakley by his
brother-in-law, Mr. James Yearsley, then in full practice as an
aural surgeon. At first he was only an occasional contributor to
the journal in question, and his earliest contributions to it were "
On Quacks and Quackery." These gave evidence of his
nndoubted powers as a writer, and ho was soon appointed, in
conjunction with myself, as one of its sub-editors. When it
was determined by Mr. Wakley to publish biographical
sketches and portraits of eminent living practitioners, the task
of supplying the necessary material was confided to Dr. Smith
and myself. He had the lion's share in this arrangement, and
no one can doubt that he fulfilled his duty with eminent ability.
My own labours were confined to three or four of the leading
physicians of the time. I contributed amongst others the
lives of Clutterbuck and Merriman, and subsequently embodied
these articles in the second edition of " The Lives of
British Physicians," which I edited. Whatever objections
may be urged on the score of taste against these, biographies,
I have no hesitation in saying that they supplied an important
addition to the history of Medicine. To Dr. Smith they were
of the utmost importance, as they introduced him to many of
the foremost men in the profession, and they properly lost no
opportunity of serving his interests. Under their patronage
he soon became a busy practitioner. When the St. Mary's
Hospital and School were established — mainly by the efforts
of Samuel Lane and Buker Brown — Dr. Smith was appointed
Physician-Accoucheur to the Hospital, and Lecturer on Obstetrics
and Disenses of Women in the school attached to
it. Probably with little practical knowledge of the subjects
on which ho was appointed to lecture, ho soon gavo evidence
that he was equal to the duties imposed on him, and
published a series of lectures in the Lancet at once original
and suggestive. His connexion with the Lancet brought hiin
in friendly contact with Dr. Marshall Hall, who remained a
steadfast friend to him as long as he lived. Hall had but one
idea, and that was carrying out to the uttermost " the reflex
function." Smith took advantage of the instruction he
received from the great physiologist, and his lectures in the
Lancet show that he had the sagacity to profit by the
suggestions of that great man. These lectures were subsequently
embodied by Smith in his " Manual of Ob-
stetricy," which now forms one of the series of the celebrated
manuals issued by Churchill. His manual soon
reached a second edition, and it was at one time regarded
as tho best text-book for students and young practitioners.
With a considerable practice, the labour as sub-editor of the
Lancet, combined with his duties at St. Mary's Hospital,
Smith, who was never of a robust constitution, felt that he
was overworked. Nearly twenty years ago, when Joseph
Toynbee was breaking down. Smith said to me, " I feel that I
am overtasked ; I shall break down like poor Toynbee." His
indomitable courage, however, urged him on, and he continued
to work far beyond his powers, and I think it probable that
the exhaustion consequent upon his incessant brain-work laid
the foundation of the disease to which he eventually
succumbed.
The late Mr. Wakley was fully impressed with the
truth of Dr. Smith's statement, and, under his advice, Dr.
Smith discontinued his more laborious duties
on the Lancet.
Shortly before this time the New Equitable Life Insurance
Company was establi»hed by Mr. Wakley and Dr. George
Beaman. The object of tho new institution
was most praiseworthy, and has been most successful. The chief life office had ignored the claims of the medical attendants of proposed insurers to remuneration for the reports which they f umiahed. The New Equitable adopted the principle of paying liberally for these reports. This wholesome practice was attended by most beneficial results. The success of the New Equitable was almost unprecedented in the history of life assurance; and, with few exceptions, all the chief life offices in the metropolis found it necessary to their interest that they should follow the example set them by tho New Equitable. Dr. Tyler Smith was one of the original directors of the New Equitable, and I have reason to know that in this capacity he was a most able and efficient officer. The New Equitable subsequently amalgamated with the Briton and other societies, and it is not too much to assume that the great success of that institution owes much to Tyler Smith, who for some time before his death wu its vice-president. Without derogating from his merits, it is not uncharitable to say that Smith arrived at his prominent position in the profession less from his powers as a great practical physician than his undoubted abilities and talents as a writer. His early training could scarcely be called thoroughly practical, but few men in our time, whether in regard to description or controversy, could be placed in successful competition with Dr. Tyler Smith. He had marvellous power in placing facts in a striking and original light; and in controversy he had that " skill iu fence " which generally plaoed hij antagonist in what appeared to be an indefensible position. No man has done more to elevate the character of medical literature than Tyler Smith ; few mon have ever written so well. Hud he been a lawyer instead of a doctor he would havn been early on the bench, — his astuteness and power of grasping tho main facts of an argument, his readiness of resource under apparent defeat, and the judicial qualities of his mind would have made him a great judge. He was not destined to become a judge, but ho is entitled to be remembered as a great medical reformer. All his ideas were likrsl, and these lie carried out faithfully to the end. In IS10 Dr. Smith obtained the M.B. of the University of London, the M.D. in 1848, and wns elected F.R.C.P. in 1859. Heremovcl from Bolton-street to No. ~, and subsequently to 21, UpF-1 Grosvenor-street, at which he residod at tho time of his d-afa. For some years his health had been in an unsatisfacturj state, and ho was in the hnbit of spending from Friday to Monday in the country. He had suffered from Bright * disease and from arterial degeneration ; theso were accompanied by occasional attacks of epistaxis and tendency to purpura. He was attended by Sir Thomas Watson. Dr. Georire Johnson, and Dr. Gustavus Murray. On tho afternoon of Whit Monday, whilst on a visit to Richmond, ho was focai sitting on a bench in a stato of insensibility. He was roniovni to the Richmond Infirmary, and notwithstanding the unremitting exertions of Mr. Hills andDr. Withecombe ho never nlli*'., and died about three hours after admission. The verdict of T! coroner's jury was " Death from natural causes." In addition to the particulars of his career given above, it should be stated tii-t he commenced as a lecturer on obstetrics in the school 0:1. 10 late Mr. Dennott, then situated in Bedford-square. It can:r;t be said that in this capacity ho gave any evidence of his future success. He had none of tho natural gifts for the fulfilment of such a position. He was awkward in delivery, hcsitat'J, and often appeared likely to break down; but he perse vtr.i, and though he never attained eminence ns a "lecturer,' t).' subject of his discourses was practical, suggestive, sal thoroughly instructive. Ho delivered his lectures mon-ly with the aid of notes, and never wrote them out id eiU**>- Ho was one of the founders of the Obstetrical Society, of whsjh he was tho second president. It will be seen by the liet of works appended that he was a large contributor to the literature of Medicine. Some years since he bought an estate at Seaford, in Sussex, with the object of elevating that obscur.' town to a state of prosperity and importance. To some eitetit he succeeded in his object, but his praiseworthy efforts were, I believe, a source of great anxiety to him. He was rewarded, however, by being placed on the commission of the peace. I have already shown enough to prove that Dr. Tyler Smith was no ordinary man. In spite of early difficulties, weak bodily health, and some other drawbacks to success, he rose to be one of the foremost amongst us. This was due to his self- reliance, his industry, and his courage. He is a worthy example to the student and the voung practitioner. Author Krdleal Tlir»> nud Gazette. MEDICAL NEWS. " Scrofula : itsOBITUARY.
 
 
Family links: 
 Spouse:
  Tryphena Yearsley Tyler Smith (1820 - 1886)*
 
 Children:
  Walter Thurlow Tyler Smith (1858 - 1919)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
St Peter Churchyard, East Blatchington
Seaford
Lewes District
East Sussex, England
Plot: Front of Church
 
Created by: Carol E. Tylersmith
Record added: Feb 08, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 47807084
Dr William Tyler Smith
Added by: Bob Downing
 
Dr William Tyler Smith
Added by: Bob Downing
 
Dr William Tyler Smith
Added by: Carol E. Tylersmith
 
 
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