Lives of the fellows

Archibald Gilpin

b.31 August 1906 d.29 November 1959
MB BCh Lond(1929) MD Lond(1931) MRCP(1931) FRCP(1938)

Archibald Gilpin was born in Southsea, Hampshire. His father was Archibald Gilpin, O.B.E., at one time deputy director of Works, Air Ministry, and his mother Lily, daughter of James Burrows, of Sheerness. From Alleyn’s School, Dulwich, and King’s College he entered King’s College Hospital Medical School, where he was a member of the hospital Rugby and swimming teams and won the student’s prize of the British Medical Association.

A house post under Kinnier Wilson, on whom he was to model his approach to diagnosis and treatment, brought the interest in neurology that won him the first Ferrier prize, founded to commemorate Sir David Ferrier. In 1933, as the University of London post-graduate travelling fellow, he studied renal pathology under Ludwig Aschoff at Freiburg, and two years later was appointed junior physician, morbid anatomist, and curator of the museum at his parent hospital. Very soon he was recognised as a clever diagnostician and a popular teacher who knew how to apply his knowledge of pathology.

While still a young man Gilpin developed the interest in old medical books that was to lead to his appointment as Harveian Librarian of the College in 1948, and to a collection that sold for £17,500 after his death. In addition to his work at King’s which included the post of physician to the nursing staff, he was consultant to the Croydon General, Norwood and District, Ealing and Liverstone, and Dartford Hospitals, so that he had little time for research.

The Second World War was a profound shock to Gilpin, who had a sincere admiration for the work of German scientists. It brought him an intolerable amount of work, for when the staff and inpatients of King’s were evacuated to Horton Hospital he remained to care for emergency admissions, including air-raid casualties, and out-patients, and lived alone at home as his family had gone into the country.

He became depressed and was in poor health. Following an operation for hernia he developed a femoral vein thrombosis with permanent oedema of one leg, and no doubt then suffered from the tuberculosis of the lungs that was far advanced when it was diagnosed in 1949.

In 1951 he returned to his hospital duties, but never regained his old energy and enthusiasm. Recurrent periods of illness were his lot until his death at the early age of fifty-three. In 1936 he married Margaret Alison Anderson, by whom he had two sons and one daughter.

Richard R Trail

[Brit.med.J., 1959, 2, 1337; King’s Coll. Hosp. Gaz., 1960, 39, 7-8; Lancet, 1959, 2, 1205.]

(Volume V, page 151)

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