Administrative / Biographical History

MB ChB Manc 1903, MD 1906; LLD Belfast 1948; FRCP 1939; FRCOG 1929.

Sir William Fletcher Shaw, one of the most distinguished Manchester gynaecologists, was born in Manchester on 13 April 1878, the son of an industrial chemist. He was educated at Manchester Grammar School and the University of Manchester, where he was president of the Students' Union and was known as 'Hairy Bill' on account of his moustache. Shaw held resident posts at MRI and at St Mary's Hospital, where he played an important part in establishing the pathological laboratory and was greatly influence by Archibald Donald, a pioneer of the Manchester operation for genital prolapse. In 1912, he was elected to the honorary staff of St Mary's and seven years later became honorary gynaecologist at MRI. Shaw was appointed professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Manchester in 1925, a position he held until his retirement in 1943. He was later appointed consultant adviser in gynaecology to the North West Region. He published many papers, particularly about uterine prolapse.

Shaw played a crucial role in the foundation of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. He first thought of founding a college in 1924, and after a discussion at the Gynaecological Visiting Society, it was decided to set up a committee to enlist support, with Shaw as secretary. In 1929, when the College was founded, Shaw was first honorary secretary. From 1938 to 1943 he was president of the College. He was awarded his knighthood in 1943. Shaw was an international ambassador for the College, and in 1948 was admitted as honorary fellow. He was also honorary fellow of a number of other associations, including the American College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Physicians. In the late 1940s, he was awarded an honorary Mastership of Midwifery from the Society of Apothecaries and an LLD from Queen's University Belfast. Shaw was also president of the North of England Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society, of the Section of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the Royal Society of Medicine, and of MMS in 1937 and again in 1951. Shaw died on 14 November 1961.

Related Material

See also MMC/1/ShawW.