MRCS LRCP 1920, FRCS 1925; MSc Manch 1933.
Shaw was born on 27 February 1899 in Kirkham, Lancashire. His father William Wright Shaw, and grandfather Thomas Shaw (MRCS 1836), were both surgeons in Kirkham. His maternal grandfather, George Dawson Hunt, was a surgeon in Carnforth. Ronald Cunliffe Shaw was educated at Kirkham Grammar School, the University of Manchester and St Bartholomew's Hospital. He held resident appointments at MRI and Salford Royal Hospital. In 1927 Shaw was Tom Jones Research Scholar, and the following year undertook research for the BMA on nerve irritation and histology of the thyroid. In 1929, Shaw was appointed honorary surgeon to Preston Royal Infirmary, a position he held until his retirement in 1964. From 1938, he was also honorary surgeon to St Joseph's Hospital Preston and Whittingham Hospital, and consultant to Lytham Hospital. Shaw was a member of Manchester Medical Society and a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine. He was also a keen local and family historian, and published a number of articles on Kirkham and his family.