The Equiano Centre


William Awoonor-Renner

Medical student

William Renner was born in 1856 in Sierra Leone. He studied at Liverpool College before studying at University College London some time in the 1870s to 1880. He also studied in Dublin and Brussels.

The Isle of Wight Observer reported in November 1881 that 'At the Free University of Brussels, an African negro, William Renner, a native of Sierra Leone, has passed the three examinations for Doctor in Medicine with the greatest success. He will return and practise his profession on the Gulf of Guinea, a station hitherto fatal to professional white men.'

Renner then trained in London for an M.R.C.S. and was given an Orphthalmic assistantship. He returned to Sierra Leone in 1882 where, as F.W. Butt-Thompson reports 'from that time to his death in 1917, held every appointment open to him in the colony, and was consulting surgeon to all its hospitals.' In Sierra Leone, Renner worked as the Assistant Colonial Surgeon. He took the name William Awoonor-Renner in 1912.


The Isle of Wight Observer, 26 November 1881

Butt-Thompson, F W. Sierra Leone in History and Tradition. London: H.F. & G. Witherby, 1926, p. 199.

Patton, Adell. Physicians, Colonial Racism, and Diaspora in West Africa. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1996.