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Ulster Med J. 2010 January; 79(1): 30–31.
PMCID: PMC2938995


Peter Froggatt, Former Vice-Chancellor, QUB


Information has recently been uncovered which merits a short foot-note to the biographical details of Sir William Whitla (1851–1933), a towering medical presence, twice President of this Society (1886 and 1901) and its greatest benefactor.

Sir William's first recorded ancestor was John Whitly (1680–1721) who lived in the townland of Drumnahuncheon, between Richhill and Kilmore, County Armagh. Sir William's father, Robert was born in 1817 by which time his family name was spelt Whitley. Due, reportedly, to a family feud, Robert and his father changed their name to Whitlaw. Robert Whitlaw went to live in Monaghan where in 1841 he married Anne Williams of a family long resident in the town. Shortly afterwards Robert changed his name to Whitla, and it was as Whitla that all twelve of the offspring were born. Such name changes were frequent at the time but those among Sir William's forebears have not previously been described.

(I am indebted to Mr Patrick Corkey, now deceased, a grandnephew of Sir William, for recently giving me this information which had been brought to light by Sir William's nephew, Commander James Whitla Gracey [1884–1969], but not reported.)

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