William received his medical education at the Royal College of Surgeons and Trinity College, Dublin, qualifying M.B. in 1876 and F.R.C.S.I. in 1889. On 5th August 1877 he took up a commission within the Medical Services at the rank of Surgeon, then served in the Afghan war from 1879 to 1880, and in Soudan in 1885. On 5th August 1889 he gained promotion to Surgeon Major, then on 5th August 1897 was promoted again to Surgeon Lieutenant Colonel. He served in South Africa in 1900. On 1st April 1904 he gained promotion to the rank of Colonel, then on 8th June 1908 gained promotion to Surgeon General. On 12th June 1910 he was appointed King’s Honorary Surgeon, and in 1910 Knight of Grace, Order of St. John of Jerusalem. He retired on 4th December 1914 but was re-employed the same day due to the war. On the 1st July 1916, he was appointed on the Director-General's staff as Assistant Inspector of Medical Services investigating locally the complaints made to the Secretary of State for War regarding the medical services. He held this appointment up until the 1st March 1918 when he was replaced by Major-General Sir M W Russell. During this time, in 1917, he was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath.