MB ChB Edin 1872, MD 1875 (Gold medal), DSc 1872;
William Stirling, known as Billy, was professor of physiology at the University of Manchester. He was born in Grangemouth, Scotland in January 1851 and was educated at the Dollar Academy. He studied science and medicine at the University of Edinburgh, gaining a number of academic distinctions. He was demonstrator of practical zoology and later of practical physiology at the University before being appointed assistant to the professor of the Institutes of Medicine. Stirling then spent two years in Leipzig studying physiology under Professor Ludwig, and became professor of physiology at the University of Aberdeen from 1877. In 1886, Stirling was appointed Brackenbury Professor of Physiology and Histology at Owens College, a position he held for 33 years. He was responsible for the building of a new physiological department and was dean of the Faculty of Medicine. Stirling was a popular lecturer with students, and also undertook lecturers and demonstrations to teachers and working class audiences to raise the public knowledge of physiology. He also lectured to the Neurological Society and the Otological Society when they visited Manchester. He was appointed Fullerian Professor of Physiology to the Royal Institution, London, in 1906. Stirling was a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and a member of the Physiological Society. Stirling retired in 1919. He remained in Manchester where he died on 1 October 1932. His son, William Stirling junior (see below) was a ophthalmic surgeon in Manchester.