William Addey was born in Lancashire, the son of Jacob Addey, a farmer from Northern Ireland, and of an English mother, Elizabeth Fielding. After a private education in Manchester he was taken by his widowed mother to Belgium, Germany and France, where he acquired a good working knowledge of French and German. What he saw in Paris during the celebrations of the hundredth anniversary of the storming of the Bastille laid the foundation of his life-long liberal outlook on social questions, and probably explains why dissatisfaction with a short business career made him turn to medicine and matriculate at University College, London. There his interest in literature and debating brought him into contact with E. V. Lucas, G. K. Chesterton and A. E. Housman.
It was after nine years’ training, during which he held house appointments under Sir Frederick Roberts and Sir Rickman Godlee, that he joined a group practice in Croydon in which Dr Parsons-Smith was senior partner. For a short time he acted as assistant surgeon to Croydon General Hospital. During World War I he served with the R.A.M.C, from 1916 to 1919, when he settled in Ipswich. There he joined the staff of the Suffolk and Ipswich Hospital and soon established himself as a consultant for heart conditions with a reputation for careful examination and sound judgment, founded on a remarkable power of placing the patient’s illness in the context of his environment. To his busy practice he added a keen interest in the B.M.A.; he was president of the Suffolk branch in 1932, a member of the Representative Body in 1934, and chairman of the East Suffolk division in 1935. When time allowed he was a charming and entertaining host, but he had little time on top of his holiday walks in the Alps to indulge in his love of music and literature, and his favourite hobby of sailing his yacht in the Orwell estuary. His self-sacrifice in returning to work during World War II and the illness of his last two years was an inspiration to his colleagues.
In 1918 he married Edith Jane Wilson, the daughter of an Aberdeenshire flour-miller, whom he met in 1916 when she was a Queen Alexandra nurse at the 7th Stationary Hospital at Boulogne. They had two daughters.
Richard R Trail
[Brit.med.J., 1947, 2 35; Lancet, 1947, 2, 75.]