(1795–1862), politician, medical reformer, founder and editor of the Lancet. Wakley first achieved notoriety when, as a young surgeon, he was falsely accused of decapitating the bodies of the Cato Street conspirators on the scaffold [see insurrection]. Friends of the hanged men assaulted him and burnt his house to the ground. His insurance company subsequently claimed that he was the arsonist, a charge he successfully defended in court. Wakley's sensational legal battle brought him into contact with William Cobbett, who encouraged him to embark on a career in medical journalism. In 1823 he founded the Lancet, a weekly newspaper which soon became a powerful vehicle for medical improvement and reform [see medicine, 18].
From An Oxford Companion to the Romantic Age in Oxford Reference.
Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945).