Dr Robert James Probyn-Williams

Personal Details

Dr Robert James Probyn-Williams MD FFARCS MRCS LRCP

Place of birth: Marylebone, London

Nationality: British

CRN: 715281

Education and qualifications

General education

School uknown; University of Durham; The London Hospital (recipient of Buxton scholarship)

Primary medical qualification(s)

MB, Durham, 1889

Initial Fellowship and type

FFARCS by Election

Year of Fellowship


Other qualification(s)

MRCS LRCP, 1890; MD, Durham, 1892

Professional life and career

Postgraduate career

Showing an early interest in anaesthetics Probyn-Williams was house physician, house surgeon and instructor in anaesthetics at The London, then anaesthetist to the Royal Dental Hospital and lecturer on anaesthetics to the London School of Clinical Medicine, Greenwich. In 1896 he was appointed as the first honorary anaesthetist to The London, making him one of only 26 full-time anaesthetists in Britain at the time. Already a captain in the RAMC (TA) he remained at the hospital while it became the 2nd London General Hospital during WW1. Apppointed lecturer in anaesthetics in 1910 (after Sir Frederick Hewitt who was never on the clinical staff), he retired in 1926.

Professional interests and activities

Interested in mixtures of anaesthetics he was best known for producing a modification of one of Clover’s ether inhalers. He was an enthusiastic member of the original Society of Anaesthetists, serving as treasurer (1903) and president (1907), in the latter role conducting the final negotiations which led to it becoming the section at the RSM.

Other biographical information

Popular with medical students, he played regularly in the staff/students golf match and rarely missed hospital cup rugby matches. His hobbies were music, photography and Masonry. Predeceased by his wife (Emily Auden) and daughter, his son was a GP in Gloucestershire.

Author and Sources

Author: Prof Tony Wildsmith

Sources and any other comments: Obituaries. BMJ 1953; i: 47 & BJA 1953; 25: 182-4 | Durham University Archives (those for the Medical School are held in Newcastle upon Tyne) | Royal London Hospital Archives