An Interactive Annotated World Bibliography of Printed and Digital Works in the History of Medicine and the Life Sciences from Circa 2000 BCE to 2022 by Fielding H. Garrison (1870-1935), Leslie T. Morton (1907-2004), and Jeremy M. Norman (1945- ) Traditionally Known as “Garrison-Morton”

16018 entries, 14076 authors and 1941 subjects. Updated: July 14, 2024

HEWSON, William

3 entries
  • 863

1. Experiments on the blood, with some remarks on its morbid appearances (pp. 368-83). 2. On the degree of heat which coagulates the lymph, and the serum of the blood; with an inquiry into the causes of the inflammatory crust, or size, as it is called (pp. 384-97). 3. Further remarks on the properties of the coagulable lymph, on the stopping of haemorrhages, and on the effects of cold upon the blood (pp. 398-413).

Phil. Trans., 60, 368-383, 384-97, 398-413, 1771.

In papers 2 and 3 of this set of 3 contiguously published papers Hewson was the first to describe fibrinogen. "Before Hewson, although the fibrin mesh had been recognised and admired from as far back as Plato, it was thought that the secret of clotting lay in the red cells rather than the plasma. Hewson had ample opportunity to study coagulation; so common was the practice of ‘cupping’. He saw it clot as he beat it with a glass rod, thought that clotting was accelerated when blood came in contact with air (a theory disproved by John Hunter who showed that it could occur in a vacuum) and postulated that the its secret lay in the ‘coagulable lymph’ as he described plasma, making him the first to describe fibrinogen" (Derek Doyle, "William Hewson (1739-74): the father of haematology", British Journal of Haematology, April 2006.

Subjects: HEMATOLOGY, HEMATOLOGY › Coagulation
  • 1102

Experimental inquiries: Part the second. Containing a description of the lymphatic system in the human subject and in other animals. Together with observations on the lymph, and the changes which it undergoes in some diseases.

London: J. Johnson, 1774.

Hewson gave the first complete account of the anatomical peculiarities of the lymphatics. He divided the lymphatics into two groups – superficial and deep. He described the leucocytes as derived from the lymphatic glands and thymus.

"Hewson's studies of the lymphatics are models of skill and ingenuity. He studied them in vitro and in vivo (observing them through a hand‐held magnifying glass in the web of a frog's foot). Disproving the current theory, he showed that the lymphatics are not part of the blood system, that nodes are stopping stations along lymphatic vessels and that every cavity of the body, and not just the lacteals of the small intestine, is drained by the lymphatic system. He demonstrated the absorptive properties of the lymphatics by injecting a dye or noxious substance into experimental animals and then demonstrating it in the lymphatics in a distant part of the body. It was this theory – that the lymphatics, and not just the intestinal lacteals, are a vast and highly effective absorption system – that brought him into conflict with Monro secundus (Wintrobe, 1980).

"Hewson went further, suggesting that noxious agents could enter the body via the lymphatics. ‘The axillary glands are likewise frequently observed to swell in consequence of cancers in the breast and it is found of no use to extirpate the breast itself unless the affected glands can likewise be removed; for otherwise the cancerous tumour of the glands may renew the disease.’ (Hewson, 1774a).

"This work inevitably led him to study further the villi of the gut and their lacteals. He demonstrated how villi in the small intestine differed from those in the colon, and then went on to compare the lacteals of fish, amphibians and turtles (Hewson, 1774b)." (Derek Doyle, "William Hewson (1739-74): the father of haematology", British Journal of Haematology, April, 2006).


Subjects: ANATOMY › 18th Century, Lymphatic System
  • 79

The works. Edited with an introduction and notes by George Gulliver.

London: Sydenham Society, 1846.

Hewson was a pupil of the Hunters. In 1769 his memoir on the lymphatics in fishes won for him the Copley Medal of the Royal Society. See also Nos. 863, 1102. The editor of this edition provided a detailed historical introduction, a biography of Hewson and a bibliography of Hewson's writings. Digital facsimile from the Hathi Trust at this link.

Subjects: BIOGRAPHY (Reference Works) › Biographies of Individuals, COMPARATIVE ANATOMY, Collected Works: Opera Omnia, HEMATOLOGY