William Hawes (physician)
William Hawes M.D. (1736–1808) was an English physician, founder of the Royal Humane Society.
Hawes was born at Islington, London, on 28 November 1736, and was educated at first by John Shield, and afterwards at St Paul's School, London. After passing some time with Mr. Carsan, a medical practitioner of Vauxhall, he became assistant to a Mr. Dicks in the Strand and eventually succeeded him in his practice.
About 1773 Hawes became well known as a campaigner for the possibility of resuscitating persons apparently dead from drowning, or other causes of asphyxia. For a year he gave a reward to anyone who brought to him, or his supporters, the body of a person who had been taken out of the River Thames insensible, within a reasonable time after immersion. The reward was paid whether the attempt to resuscitate proved successful or not. Thomas Cogan, who translated in 1773 an account of an Amsterdam society for the resuscitation of the apparently drowned, thought that Hawes should not pay all the rewards, and it was arranged in 1774 that he and Cogan should each bring fifteen friends to the Chapter coffee-house to consider further operations. This was done, and at the meeting the Humane Society was formed. Hawes became its registrar.
Hawes was also physician to the London Dispensary. From 1791 he lived in Spital Square, and in 1793 worked to alleviate the distress which then was found among Spitalfields weavers. He died 5 December 1808.
Hawes wrote the following works:
- An Account of Dr. Goldsmith's Illness, 1774. Oliver Goldsmith had consulated Hawes as apothecary, but against his advice continued to self-medicate with Dr James's "fever powder".
- An Examination of the Rev. John Wesley's Primitive Physic, 1776; 3rd ed. 1780.
- An Address on Premature Death and Premature Interment, 1777.
- An Address to the Public on the Dangerous Custom of laying out persons as soon as Respiration ceases, with a Reply by W. Renwick, and Observations on that Reply, 1778.
- An Address to the Legislature on the importance of a Humane Society, 1781.
- An Address to the King and Parliament of Great Britain on the important subject of preserving the Lives of its Inhabitants, 1782; 3rd ed., with Observations on the General Bills of Mortality, 1783.
- The Transactions of the Royal Humane Society from 1774 to 1784, with an Appendix of Miscellaneous Observations on Suspended Animation to the year 1794.
- Stephen, Leslie; Lee, Sidney, eds. (1891). "Hawes, William (1736-1808)". Dictionary of National Biography 25. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- Dussinger, John A. "Goldsmith, Oliver". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/10924. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Williams, Carolyn D. "Hawes, William". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/12648. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Pease-Watkin, Catherine. "Gurney, Sir John". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/11767. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Stephen, Leslie; Lee, Sidney, eds. (1891). "Hawes, William (1736-1808)". Dictionary of National Biography 25. London: Smith, Elder & Co.