W. R. Basham was born at Diss. The first few years of his career were spent in business, and it was not until 1831 that he enrolled as a student at Westminster Hospital. Having finished his studies with a year at Edinburgh, where he graduated in 1834, he spent a further year as a clinical assistant at the Hospital, and then made a voyage in the East India Company’s ship Hythe to China, where he was wounded in a skirmish. In 1843, five years after his return, he obtained the appointment of physician to his old Hospital, and in 1849 became lecturer on materia medica and botany and joint lecturer on medicine. He became sole lecturer on medicine in 1855, and held this post until 1871. Outside the Medical School, Basham was best known for his works on renal diseases. His book On Dropsy connected with Disease of the Kidneys (1858), with excellent drawings by the author, appeared in three editions, in the last of which his Croonian Lectures of 1864 were incorporated. Among his other published works were Renal Diseases, a Clinical Guide (1870) and Aids to Diagnosis of Diseases of the Kidneys (1872). He was a Censor of the Royal College of Physicians. Basham, as well as being a competent botanist and chemist, was a man of wide culture and an accomplished water-colour painter. Endowed with good health, he was an enthusiast for open air and exercise, and was wont to bathe in the Serpentine in all seasons.
G H Brown
[Lancet, 1877; B.M.J., 1877; D.N.B., iii, 354]