Lives of the fellows

Maurice Davidson

b.30 August 1883 d.8 November 1967
BA Oxon(1905) MA BM BCh(1908) DM(1912) MRCP(1919) FRCP(1927)

Maurice Davidson was born in Liverpool where his father, a Fellow of the College, was on the staff of the Royal Infirmary and was Professor of Pathology in the University.

After his early education in Liverpool, he proceeded to Oxford where he read Natural Science and took a 2nd Class Honour, completing his medical education at University College Hospital from which hospital he qualified in 1908. He held house appointments at University College Hospital and St. George’s Hospital and was later appointed to the staff of the Brompton Hospital and the Miller Hospital, Greenwich.

He was devoted to the Brompton Hospital, of which he wrote the history: The Brompton Hospital, the story of a great adventure, 1954. He was for many years Dean of the Medical School there and his interest in postgraduate education was evidenced by his being Secretary of the Fellowship of Medicine and of the Postgraduate Medical Association. He was also active on the editorial board of the Royal Society of Medicine, of which he wrote a history in 1965, being elected an Honorary Fellow the same year.

During the 1914-18 war he served with the RAMC in Gallipoli, Egypt and Palestine. On his return, he was admitted a Member of the College in 1919 and elected to the Fellowship in 1927. He gave the Fitzpatrick Lectures in 1952 and 1953 on the history of medicine in Oxford, published as Medicine in Oxford, a historical romance, which dealt with the subject from the origins of the University to the time of Osier. He was such a good Latin scholar that he expected a like expertise from his readers and gave no translation to his Latin quotations. His feeling for the past was echoed by two books he wrote after his retirement from the Brompton: Memoirs of a Golden Age, about the Oxford of his time, and Destiny and Freewill, 1962. He wrote three books on diseases of the chest.

He was a good physician of the old school, careful and kind, and his hospital patients adored him. He was always neat, and affected an old-fashioned style of dress; square bowler hat or a speckled straw, with sponge bag trousers. He was a romantic of a very equable and lovable temperament who went out of his way, and spared no effort, in helping young medical men in their careers, and many of the younger generation of physicians owed their positions to his encouragement and assistance.

He married Gretchen Lucy Bolton-Smith, the daughter of a parson, and had four children. Although his marriage was a happy one, and his family united and devoted, he suffered several tragedies in that his daughter, her husband, and their young baby were drowned in a steamship accident on the Nile, and also from the death of one of his sons in very tragic circumstances. He suffered these blows with great fortitude and lived many years after this, later to endure amputation of both legs for peripheral vascular disease.

Maurice Davidson was an eccentric in dress and manner and was dearly loved by all his colleagues.

F Lee Lander

[Brit.med.J., 1967, 4, 424; Lancet, 1967, 2, 1096; Times, 11 Nov 1967; Postgrad, med. J., 1967, 43, 755]

(Volume VI, page 140)

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