Lives of the fellows

Thomas Forrest Cotton

b.4 November 1884 d.26 July 1965
BA McGill(1909) MD CM McGill(1909) Hon DSc McGill(1946) MRCP(1920) FRCP(1931)

Thomas Cotton, the son of Cedric and Harriet C. Cotton, was born at Cowansville, Quebec, Canada, and graduated from McGill University. Following house posts and post-graduate studies in Europe and the U.S.A. he came to University College Hospital, London, to work with Sir Thomas Lewis in 1913, returned to Montreal General Hospital to take charge of the electro-cardiography department, and then rejoined Lewis in 1914 at the Military Hospital, Hampstead, which had been established for research into heart disorders in soldiers. There, with Osier, Mackenzie, Allbutt, Caler, Meakins, Parkinson and Drury he carried out investigations on soldiers’ heart, named effort syndrome by Lewis. Later at Colchester he began the work on subacute bacterial endocarditis which led to his important report to the Medical Research Council (Brit. med. J.,1920, 2, 851-4).

After the war he was a part-time worker for the Council in Lewis’s department and set up in consulting practice. From 1924, when he was appointed physician to out-patients at the National Heart Hospital, he was engaged in purely clinical work there, at the Queen Alexandra’s Military Hospital, Millbank, and as consultant cardiologist to the Ministry of Pensions. In 1922 he was a founder member of the Cardiac Club, and for many years he was a prominent member of the British Cardiac Society.

Cotton was always more interested in patients than in their diseases, and by his optimism and kindness brought confidence to many who became devoted friends. A good mixer, he made every meeting with him a memorable occasion to his junior colleagues. Early and fortunate investments in Canada had made him financially independent. The College was the gainer; by his substantial bequest his admired master Osier is remembered in the dining room, named at his request the Osier Room, and in an annual Osier oration.

In 1928 he married Dr Mary (Molly) Marshall, then a clinical assistant at the National Heart Hospital. They had no family.

Richard R Trail

[Brit. Heart J., 1966, 28, 136-8; Brit.med.J., 1965, 2, 367; Lancet, 1965, 2, 301; Montreal Gazette, 28 Oct. 1965; Times, 27 July 1965. Port. by David Jagger, c. 1926.]

(Volume V, page 85)

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