Lives of the fellows

Alfred Robert Davies Adams

b.14 March 1901 d.27 March 1992
MB ChB Liverp(1923)DTM&H(1925) MD(1926) MRCP(1942) FRCP(1948)

Alfred (Bill) Adams was born in Ladysmith, Natal, South Africa, the son of a doctor. He was educated at the Liverpool Institute and Liverpool University and joined the School of Tropical Medicine as a lecturer in protozoology in 1925. He was seconded to the Human Trypanosomiasis Institute, Entebbe, Uganda, in 1929 for two years and was later appointed senior pathologist to the Mauritian government in 1932. In 1936 he returned to Liverpool as a lecturer in tropical medicine and was appointed assistant honorary physician in tropical diseases at the Liverpool Royal Infirmary. In 1941 he was promoted to senior lecturer and two years later he was appointed consultant physician in tropical diseases at the Royal Infirmary, Sefton General Hospital and Mossley Hill Hospital, posts he held until his retirement in 1966.

The writer first met him at Sefton General Hospital in 1949 when he was Adams’ SHO in the tropical ward. Bill had by then looked after many thousands of tropical sick troops repatriated to Liverpool during and after the war years. His ward rounds were at first very formal and sometimes even awesome, with little dialogue apart from the business of the day. It is doubtful if he ever stayed on for the then traditional cup of coffee and a chat. He inspired, however, tremendous confidence among his patients who respected his meticulous approach. In later years, when one got to know him better, his interest in sporting books and his dry sense of humour became overt and he was both very approachable and invariably helpful.

His didactic lecturing approach appealed greatly to the many overseas postgraduate students attending the School’s diploma in tropical medicine courses. His clear diction and assertive manner were popular in the ’40s and ’50s - thus, statements such as ‘Jaundice never occurs in amoebic abscess of the liver’ were readily accepted. His most important research achievement was the study on Paludrine (ICI), that he carried out first with Warrington Yorke [Munk’s Roll, Vol.V, p.466] and later with Brian Maegraith.

Adams’ two books, with Brian Maegraith (q.v.), on Clinical tropical diseases, Oxford, Blackwell Scientific Publications, 1953 and Tropical medicine for nurses, Oxford, Blackwell, 1955, became the standard textbooks for many generations of postgraduate students. The first ran into nine editions and the second into five. He wrote many leading articles and reviews, and he was also an excellent and meticulous editor of the Annals of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology.

Among Bill’s leisure interests were shooting and fishing. He loved fast cars and many of us at the School often looked with envy at his Aston Martin sports car which he drove up to Scotland at weekends for his shooting or fishing expeditions. He also spent much time as a governor of Penrhos College, Colwyn Bay, and subsequently as chairman of the governors.

He married Eileen née Tulloch in 1932 and they had two daughters. After she died in 1967, he moved to Leicestershire, near one of his daughters, and continued to have an active retirement enjoying his shooting and fishing until handicapped by failing sight.

H M J Gilles

[68th Annual Report, 1966-67; Inc.Liverp.School of Trop.Med.]

(Volume IX, page 1)

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