President of the Nottingham Medico-Chirurgical Society


William Morley Willis:- 7, Regent Street, Nottingham; F.R.C.S. (England) 1896. M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., London, 1895 (Bristol & St. Bartholomew's Hospital), Martyn Memorial Pathological School, Bristol General Hospital. Honorary Surgeon, Nottingham General Hospital, Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine. Member of the Nottingham Medico-Chirurgical Society. Late:- Surgeon, Children's Hospital, Nottingham, House Surgeon, Bristol Hospital for Sick Children, and Casualty Officer, Bristol General Hospital.

Medical Directory 1915.


William Morley Willis was born in Bristol in 1869 and was educated at Taunton Grammar School. After being in business for some years he turned to medicine on coming of age and studied at the University College, Bristol, where he won prizes in anatomy, and at the Bristol General Hospital he was Martyn Memorial Pathological Scholar and Medalist, later Surgical Casualty Officer. He also studied at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. After acting as House Surgeon to the Bristol Hospital for Sick Children and as Resident Medical Officer to the Sunderland Royal Infirmary, he started in practice at Nottingham in 1897. He was appointed Surgeon to the Children’s Hospital, and in 1901 Assistant Surgeon to the Nottingham General Hospital, later becoming Surgeon. He restricted his practice to surgery, and during the First World War undertook various duties in the Military Hospital of the Nottingham Area. From being apparently in good health, he was struck down by illness  and died on June 26th, 1918. He had practiced latterly at 7, Regent Street, Nottingham, and was survived by his widow and two daughters.

Willis was a brilliant surgeon, a skilful diagnostician, and a most agreeable, kindly and courteous colleague, always ready to give help and advice in difficult cases, and eager to assist the younger men in any way he could.

Plarr’s Lives of the Fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons of England



Delivered 2nd November 1910

“Abdominal Rigidity”

Mr. W. Morley Willis, in a presidential address on the significance of the rigid abdomen, stated that the condition was always an early phenomenon in inflammatory lesions within the peritoneal cavity, and occasionally remained the sole objective symptom until the condition had so far advanced that operative interference was likely to prove unsuccessful. Abdominal rigidity, therefore, in itself justified an exploratory operation. As an instance in point he quoted a case in which a boy, aged 16, had been seized with acute abdominal pain four hours previous to his being seen by Mr. Willis, but only objective symptom was abdominal rigidity. Nevertheless, section was at once performed, and a perforation of the duodenum discovered. In another case in which operation was performed on the strength of abdominal rigidity, the cause proved to be a perforated gastric ulcer. Abdominal rigidity might occur in some pleural conditions, but in these cases temperature was unusually high, and respiration rapid and generally catchy. As a surgical axiom it might be laid down that the necessity for operation was urgent in exact proportion to the intensity of the abdominal rigidity.

In the discussion which followed, cases were quoted in which abdominal rigidity had been absent, although the conditions were urgent, and others in which abdominal rigidity had been present, but recovery had occurred without surgical interference.


SURGEONS Nottinghams Eminent Surgeons and Physicians