Lives of the fellows

Michael Comport Grabham

b.9 January 1840 d.28 January 1935
MD Hon LLD Aberd MRCS LRCP Edin FRCP(1877)

Michael Grabham’s father, a doctor known far and wide in Essex as John Grabham of Rochford, had four sons who entered his own profession. Michael himself, after attending King’s College, London, studied medicine at St. Thomas’s Hospital, like his three brothers. After qualifying in 1861 and acting as house surgeon at the Hospital, he took ship for Madeira, which was to be his home for over seventy years. In his early days there, sufferers from tuberculosis formed the majority of his patients but, with the increase in the island’s popularity, for which his own booklet on its climate and resources, published in 1865, was partly responsible, his clientele came to include all categories of invalids and convalescents from Europe. In the course of time, he became an undisputed authority on Madeira’s climate, botany, animal and marine life, and geography.

Grabham was, indeed, an established "institution" on Madeira long before his death. On frequent visits to London, he kept abreast of the latest developments in all branches of science. In 1907 he represented the Royal College of Physicians at the centenary meeting of the Geological Society of London and, in his Bradshaw Lecture fourteen years later, he discoursed on sub-tropical esculents. A fine organist, he would play the organ at St. Paul’s to audiences of his friends. His other interests included a collection of clocks, bell-casting and billiards. In Who's Who, he recorded his chief recreation as "teasing", and when, in 1930, a journalist mentioned Bernard Shaw’s name to him, he declared "I don’t have anything to do with these theatrical fellows". Grabham, who was Senior Fellow on the College List when he died at the age of ninety-five, could recall memories of Faraday, Bence Jones, Charles Kingsley and Thomas Wakley. He married in 1865 Mary Blandy, whose family was well-known in Madeira, and had two sons and one daughter.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1935; B.M.J., 1935; Times, 29 Jan. 1935; Presidential Address to R.C.P., 1935, 13]

(Volume IV, page 248)

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