With an inquisitive mind and the effective use of the experimental tools available two centuries ago, William Hewson made several observations of fundamental significance in physiology and clinical medicine. He recommended paracentesis of air for correction of pneumothorax, proved the existence of lymphatics in birds, fishes, and amphibia, isolated coagulable lymph (fibrinogen) from the blood, and defined several of the physical properties of the erythrocyte in man and animals. These successes, produced in a professional span shorter than a decade, were terminated by his death at the age of 35.
William was born at Hexham, Northumberland, in 1739, the son of a surgeon and apothecary. He attended Hexham grammar school, pursued an apprenticeship with his father, completed a period of study with Mr. Lambert, surgeon of Newcastle, and went to London at the age of 20. There he studied and lived with John Hunter, attended the anatomical lectures of William