Lives of the fellows

Thomas Howard Crozier

b.23 November 1899 d.18 December 1989
MB BCh BAO Belf(1921) DPH(1922) MD(1924) MRCP(1925) BSc Belf(1934) FRCP(1941)

Thomas Howard Crozier was the only son of Samuel Crozier, a draper, and his wife Margaret née Liddell. Born in Belfast, he was educated there at the Junior Technical School which - as its name might not suggest - gave a sound literary and linguistic training. His medical training in the Queen’s University of Belfast and the Royal Victoria Hospital was interrupted in 1918-19 by service in the RNVR as a surgeon probationer in the sloop Lobelia in the Mediterranean.

On return to civilian life he held several house posts and spent a brief period at the Brompton Hospital and in 1926, at the age of 27, he was appointed visiting physician to the Belfast Infirmary. Crozier was the first to initiate the introduction of modern medicine to the Infirmary. Many good men had laboured in the old Infirmary in appalling conditions during the 19th and early 20th centuries, and the way for Crozier was uphill for years. Ancillary services were scant, money was scarce, assistance of all kinds was minimal and the Board of Guardians slow to move. Only the nursing was excellent. Some progress was made, but it was slow. It was hard to scrape a living in consultant medicine in Belfast in the 1930s and it needed fortitude to persevere. The struggle during the early days of his career and the denial of adequate facilities to enable him to study for higher qualifications, until comparatively late, left their mark. His temperament became enduring and steadfast, rather than happy.

For many years he was physician to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, and briefly to the Belfast Hospital for Nervous Diseases. In 1946 he was appointed to the staff of the Royal Victoria Hospital and was soon physician in charge of wards and senior physician. His former attachment to the department of pharmacology and his BSc course in pathology and bacteriology lent a basic science background to his clinical work. He was a man of considerable learning and his dry, even mordant, wit added point to his clinical teaching. He was a just and sympathetic examiner in the MB and MD examinations at Queen’s University.

He was one of five contributors who wrote Aids to Medical Treatment, London, Baillière,Tindall & Cox, 1931, which went into four editions in the Students' Aids Series and, with R S Allison [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII, p.6] he edited the 9th edition of Whitla's Dictionary of Treatment Sir William Whitla, London, Baillière, Tindall & Cox, 1910.

For many years he was physician to His Excellency the Governor of Northern Ireland and at the time of his death he was senior consulting physician of both the Belfast City and Royal Victoria Hospitals.

During the 1939-45 war he served in the RAMC with the rank of lieutenant colonel, which took him to the Middle East, Italy and north-west Europe.

After his retirement, he lived on a little farm at Whitehead in County Antrim, tending his collection of grandfather clocks. His wife Isobel, who predeceased him by several years, had given him a lifetime of devotion and support. They had two children, a son and a daughter. Before he died, he had the satisfaction of seeing the old Infirmary transformed into a major modern hospital, the Belfast City Hospital, in a magnificent new building and having a close association with the faculty of medicine. It could be said of him that his way was hard but his labour was not in vain.

J S Logan

[Brit.med.J., 1990,300,1010]

(Volume IX, page 109)

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