William Cleland Wilkinson was born in Blackrock, Ireland in 1855. He arrived in Preston in 1882, after travelling for several years as a ship's doctor. Wilkinson was qualified in both medicine and chemistry.
For several years Wilkinson was the only doctor in the district and was forced to travel as far as Whittlesea and adjoining districts to meet the needs of his patients. Wilkinson married Louisa Bond at St Mary’s Church of England in Preston and built a substantial family home in High Street, Preston.
In recognition of his services Dr. Wilkinson was appointed Public Vaccinator and the first Health Officer of Preston. He developed some controversial views on the treatment of tuberculosis which brought him into conflict with the authorities.
Wilkinson retired in 1911 due to ill health. Despite his brushes with the authorities Wilkinson was highly regarded by the Preston community and was the guest of honour at a farewell function organized at the Preston Shire Hall.
After his retirement Wilkinson moved to Cramer Street where he died in 1915.
Preston Historical Society (1968). Brief biographies of prominent Preston People. Preston, Vic: Author.