William Thompson (physician)

Sir William John Thompson (May 1861 – June 9, 1929) was a physician who became Registrar General for Ireland from 1909 to 1926.

Sir William Thompson
BornMay 1861
Died9 June 1929
Alma materRoyal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Known forRegistrar General for Ireland
Scientific career
Fieldsmedicine, statistics


He was born in Tattyreagh, County Tyrone to farmer William Thompson, in May 1861.[1] He was educated at Enniskillen, at Trinity College, Dublin and at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin. He graduated MD in 1895 and became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland in 1902.[2] Thompson married Mary Louise (née Wilson) on the 9 September 1891. On the 9 June 1929 he died in this home, 59 Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin.[2]


Thompson was appointed house physician in St Vincent's Hospital, Dublin in 1895.[2] He was elected demonstrator of anatomy at the RCSI, and later was appointed visiting and then senior physician to Jervis Street Hospital.[1] Whilst serving as the physician-in-ordinary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Thompson became involved in the Women's National Health Association of Ireland, an initiative of Lady Aberdeen.[2] Thompson was knighted in 1907 for services to medicine.[1]

Throughout his career Thompson paid particular attention to infantile diseases and tuberculosis, serving as a member of the committee for the 1907 Tuberculosis Exhibition. The resulting lecture, Home treatment and nursing of pulmonary tuberculosis in Dublin, was included in the second volume of three of Ireland's Crusade Against Tuberculosis (1908-1909), published by Lady Aberdeen.[2]

He became Registrar General for Ireland in 1909 and served until 1926.[3] Thompson was in this office during the Spanish flu epidemic, and noted that the Irish deaths attributed to it were conservative.[4] He was appointed Chairman of Census Commission in 1911, overseeing the first census of the Irish Free State in 1926.[5] He served as the 26th president of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland from 1918 to 1920.[1]

Thereafter held a large number of other positions, dealing both with medicine and statistics. He was a frequent contributor to the Dublin Journal of Medical Science and similar journals.

References and sources

  1. Sweeney, Paul; Rankin, Kieran; Keating, Bill. "Biographical Portraits of the Past Presidents of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland" (PDF). The Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  2. Clinton, Georgina; Sturgeon, Sinéad. "Thompson, Sir William John". Dictionary of Irish Biography. Cambridge University Press. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  3. Jolly, Emma (2013). Tracing Your Ancestors Using the Census: A Guide for Family Historians. South Yorkshire: Pen and Sword. ISBN 9781473829596.
  4. Beiner, Guy; Marsh, Patricia; Milne, Ida (2009). "Greatest killer of the twentieth century: the Great Flu of 1918–19". History Ireland. 17 (2). Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  5. Thompson, William. "The First Census of the Irish Free State and its Importance to the Country". Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  • Fleetwood, John F (1983). The History of Medicine in Ireland. Dublin: Skellig Press.
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