William Allchin was born in Paris, the eldest son of a Bayswater doctor, and, after a private education, entered University College, London, as a medical student. When he had qualified in 1869, he served as medical officer of the Great Eastern for a time. He graduated as M.B, with the University scholarship, in 1871, and then joined in succession the staffs of the Western Dispensary, of the St. Marylebone Dispensary, and of the Victoria Hospital for Children with which he remained in permanent association. For some two years he lectured on comparative anatomy at University College. In 1872 he was appointed registrar and demonstrator of practical physiology at the Westminster Hospital, and it was here that he was elected assistant physician in 1873 and physician four years later. He lectured on pathology from 1873 to 1878, physiology from 1878 to 1882 and medicine from 1882 to 1892, and held the office of dean from 1878 to 1883 and from 1890 to 1893. He retired from the staff in 1905. Allchin contributed both to Quain’s Dictionary of Medicine and Allbutt’s System of Medicine and he himself edited a well-known Manual of Medicine (1900-3).
Allchin was Senior Censor of the Royal College of Physicians, and delivered the Bradshaw Lecture in 1891, the Harveian Oration in 1903 and the Lumleian Lectures in 1905. He was appointed to the new office of Assistant Registrar in 1883, but felt obliged to resign after two years in view of his opposition to the College’s policy of applying to the Crown for permission to grant medical degrees. He later took an active interest in the movement to reconstitute London University, and was secretary of the College’s University committee from 1889 to 1898 and one of its first representatives in the new Senate. He was a member of the Medical Consultative Board to the Admiralty and an examiner for the Army and Navy Medical Departments and the Indian Medical Service. He was knighted in 1907 and appointed Physician-Extraordinary to King George V in 1910. Ailchin was highly successful both as an administrator and as a clinical teacher of the deductive type. Although reserved by nature, he was a hospitable man and enjoyed entertaining guests representing many diverse interests. He married in 1880 Margaret, daughter of Alexander Holland of New York. He died at his country home at East Mailing, Kent.
G H Brown
[Lancet, 1912; B.M.J., 1912; Presidential Address to R.C.P., 1912, 44]