William Black M.D.
Black (1749-1829) was an Irish-born physician who studied medicine at Leyden, taking his degree as MD there in 1772. He received the license of the College of Physicians in 1787 and afterwards practised in London, residing in Piccadilly. Whilst he did not attain any remarkable eminence in his profession, he was the author of several books illustrating the application of the statistical method to medicine and was one of the first writers to show that statistics, which had previously been employed in political and commercial matters, might be of great service to the progress of medicine. Having been invited to deliver the annual oration before the Medical Society of London, he expanded his lecture into this 'Comparative View' published in 1788. Before half of the first edition had sold he cancelled the remainder and brought out a revised edition entitled An Arithmetical and Medical Ananlysis of the Diseases and Mortality of the Human Species (1789). His aim was to exhibit births, mortality, diseases and casualities as being subject to arithmetical proof - in other words to construct a 'medical arithmetic' - and whilst his efforts have since been eclipsed by others in the same field, they had considerable importance in their day.