Charles James Blasius Williams

Charles James Blasius Williams (1805 – 1889) was a British physician.



  • Born 3 February 1805 in the Hungerford almshouse in Wiltshire, England
  • 1824 – Medical degree from the University of Edinburgh
  • 1833 – Physician at St. George’s University, London
  • 1835 – Fellow of the Royal Society
  • 1840 – Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians
  • 1841 – Goulstonian Lecturer
  • 1862 – Lumleian Lecturer: On the Successes and Failures in Medicine
  • 1874 – Physician Extraordinary to the Queen
  • Died 24 March 1889, Cannes

Medical Eponyms

Williams sign (1840)

Systolic protrusion of the precordium and retractionWilliams of the epigastrium in patients with adherent pericarditis

Williams described the findings of inspection and palpation which he identified in patients with adherent pericarditis in his 1840 publication: The Pathology and Diagnosis of Disease of the Chest

When the heart is thus generally adherent to the pericardium, and this to the diaphragm and walls of the chest, the enlargement of the organ, which very commonly ensues, cannot readily take place as usual, downwards, and to the left; but it proceeds upwards and downwards, carrying with it the wall of the chest, to which it gives a remarkable projection about the ends and cartilages of the middle ribs. I have seen this accompanied by a retraction or hollow at the epigastrium.

Williams 1840: 240

Williams also makes reference to James Hope (1801 – 1841) and the Hope sign (1839)

In other cases again, from the adhesions being more partial, the enlargement may take place laterally, as described by Dr. Hope, and bring the pulsating apex of the heart far to the left side. Various other changes of position may arise from different circumstances, especially when the pericarditis has been conjoined with pleurisy.

Williams 1840: 241

Key Medical Attributions

Williams worked on the mechanics of the lung. He performed innovative experiments on dogs, rabbits, and donkeys, and demonstrated that airways contract in response to electrical stimulation. the observed contractions were almost totally abolished by the anticholinergics belladonna and stramonium; and that the responses faded over time; morphine inhibited the observed responses. Application of irritant fluids into the tracheal lumen produced similar responses. Williams is credited with demonstrating bronchial hyperreactivity as a basic pathophysiological process of asthma


Fight with Hope about donkeys and heart sounds…

Major Publications


BA MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM. Emergency physician, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.  Passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | Twitter |

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