Lives of the fellows

Herbert Stanley French

b.11 November 1875 d.1 January 1951
CVO(1930) CBE(1919) BA Oxon(1898) DM LSA FRCP(1907)

Herbert French was born at Newcastle, the son of H. Huchins French, a merchant. From Dulwich College he went up to Christ Church, Oxford, where he graduated with first-class honours in natural science in 1898. He graduated in medicine from Guy’s Hospital two years later, won the Beaney scholarship in 1901, and was elected to a Radcliffe travelling fellowship in 1902. He passed through the usual resident appointments at Guy’s, and was made assistant physician in 1906 and full physician in 1917. He delivered the Goulstonian Lectures before the Royal College of Physicians in 1908, and wrote articles for Allbutt and Rolleston’s System of Medicine and for Latham and English’s System of Treatment. In 1912 he edited An Index of Differential Diagnosis of Main Symptoms, whose popularity was measured by its five subsequent editions — the last in 1945. French served as consultant to a military hospital at Aldershot, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel, during the 1914— 1918 War; later he became consulting physician both to the Queen Alexandra Military Hospital, Millbank, and the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. He was also for some years physician to H.M. Household, and received the honours of C.B.E. (1919) and C.V.O. (1930).

By 1929, the year of his relatively early retirement, French had acquired one of the largest practices in London. But he had also made his name as a teacher who spared no pains to impress — dramatically, if he thought fit — methods of diagnosis and treatment on his students. With industry and ambition he combined a certain sartorial elegance — for, up to his last round, he preserved the custom of appearing in tail coat, top hat and white spats, a gold-headed cane in his hand. After he retired, he concentrated his attention on fruit-farming at Newdigate in Surrey and enjoyed holidays on board his yacht. He married twice: firstly, in 1904 Amy, daughter of Sir James Sawyer, F.R.C.P., of Birmingham, by whom he had a son and a daughter; and, secondly, in 1948 Nora, daughter of Emanuel Bradley and widow of Edward McDonald. He died in Guy’s Hospital.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1951; B.M.J., 1951; Times, 2 Jan. 1951]

(Volume IV, page 484)

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