Cardigan People 21: Dr William Bevan-Lewis (1847–1929)

Dr William Bevan-Lewis (21.05.1847–14.10.1929)

Born at Cardigan 21 May 1847, to William Thomas Lewis (formerly of Trefgarn, Pembrokeshire) and Jane (Mansel Bevan) his wife. William Thomas (the father) was a tailor and draper at no. 9 High St. William B. was the third of 5 children.

He was educated at Cardigan and then Guy’s hospital in London. He obtained his MRCS, LRCP and LSA in 1868. He practised medicine at Burry Port for four years, and then joined the staff of the West Riding Asylum at Wakefield, where he remained for thirty-five years, eventually becoming its medical director. For twenty-five years, too, he was connected with what has now become the University of Leeds, and latterly was professor of mental diseases there.

According to Sir James Crichton-Brown, writing in the British Medical Journal after his death in 1929:

“Dr William Bevan-Lewis was one of the most diligent and productive of labourers in the field of medical psychology in this country during the last quarter of the last century and the first decade of [20th c.]

“After completing his studies at Guy’s Hospital… he became assistant medical officer at the Buckingham County Asylum… “ but after 2 yrs returned to Cardigan to begin private practice. “He soon found that his occupation in a mountainous district of Wales (sic!) was uncongenial, and left him no opportunity for the research work in which he earnestly desired to engage”

[At least he didn’t say he came from the Valleys!]

He began work at the West Riding Asylum in 1875.

He was the author of a number of text-books and publications on mental disease, including:

  • Human Brain, Histological and coarse methods of research (1882)
  • Textbook of the Mental Diseases with special reference to the pathological aspects of insanity (1889)
  • and the section devoted to the general pathology of the nervous system in Allbutt’s System of Medicine.

Some of these books are in print and available to buy on Amazon…

Bevan-Lewis received the honorary M.Sc. degree of the University of Leeds in 1905, and was president of the Medico-Psychological Association in the same year.

The value of his work has been fully appreciated by his own specialty at home and abroad, and has been widely recognized by the profession at large. One of the gentlest and most unobtrusive of men in an age when notoriety is the universal quest, Bevan-Lewis persistently kept himself in the background.

He died on 14 October 1929, at the age of 82 years.

When you walk pass no. 9 High St. remember Dr Bevan-Lewis.

Maybe it’s time for a blue plaque!

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