Nathaniel Thomas King graduated from Kings College in England in 1874, making him the first Nigerian medical doctor in practice. While working as a school administrator, King used this qualification to not only establish plans combining modern medical practice in Nigeria, but also to improve environmental sanitation. His brief life was filled with emotional moments that improved Nigerians’ quality of life.
King was born in Hastings, Sierra Leone, on July 17, 1847. Reverend Thomas King was his father, and Mary King was his mother. The Yoruba tribe was represented by the Kings.
The elder King worked with Ajayi Crowther to translate the Bible into Yoruba.
The King family relocated from Sierra Leone to Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria in 1850.
In 1861, King was referred to a Church Mission Society (CMS) to study under Dr. A.A. Harrison, a Cambridge University-trained doctor. Following Harrison’s death, Dr. Venn referred King to Fourah Bay College in Freetown, Sierra Leone, where he worked while studying.
King went on to study at King’s College in London. He was elected to the Royal Colleges of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland (MRCS). The MRCS is a post-graduate diploma that allows surgeons to join one of the four surgical colleges in the United Kingdom and Ireland, including the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland, to mention a few.
King received his medical degree from the University of Edinburgh in 1876. At the same time, he moved to Nigeria to put his newfound knowledge to use. He was stationed in Lagos and worked for the CMS as a doctor for 50 pounds sterling ($66).
While serving as a school administrator at CMS Grammar School in Nigeria, King fought for environmental sanitation. His hygiene initiatives resulted in improved sanitation practices in his home country.
On June 12, 1884, King died at the age of 37.