Lives of the fellows

John Hay

b.25 November 1873 d.21 March 1959
MB BCh Manch(1896) MD Manch(1901) MD Liverp(1904) MRCS LRCP(1895) MRCP(1903) FRCP(1915)

John Hay was born in Birkenhead. His parents, James Murdoch Hay, an architect, and Wilhelmina Lothian Hamilton Hogg, were Lowland Scots. From the Liverpool Institute he went to the University College of Liverpool, where he gained medals in anatomy, physiology and medicine, and the Holt fellowship in anatomy and surgery, through which he formed a lasting friendship with Sherrington. Posts at the Lock Hospital and the Royal and Mill Road Infirmaries gave him the wide knowledge of general medicine recognised in his appointment to the staff of the Stanley Hospital in 1901 and of the Hospital for Consumption and Diseases of the Chest in 1902.

In 1906 he was appointed assistant physician to the Liverpool Royal Infirmary, where he had been medical tutor and registrar from 1900 to 1903. By the terms of his appointment, he had to concentrate on cardiology. His interest in this subject was quickened by six months’ post-graduate study under Wenckebach at Freiburg, and became even more attractive to his enquiring mind as a result of meeting James Mackenzie, whose life-long friend he became. By then he had published papers on lung diseases, from lobar pneumonia to tuberculosis as well as on heart conditions, from pulsus paradoxus to paroxysmal tachycardia, and taken part in the review of school-children that played a part in the setting up of the Liverpool Health Service.

Before the outbreak of war in 1914 he had set up the Heart Clinic at the Royal Infirmary, but then joined the R.A.M.C., serving with the 1st Western General Hospital at Fazakerley, then at Boulogne, and finally as regional adviser in medicine and cardiology to Western Command and consulting physician to the Ministry of Pensions. Meantime he had become full physician to the Royal Infirmary.

From 1924 to 1934 he was part-time professor of medicine to the University of Liverpool. Other appointments included external examiner to Durham University, 1936-9, physician to Walton Hospital, 1933-9, and consultant to the Westmorland County Hospital, Kendal. With James Mackenzie he was a founder member of the Cardiac Club, of which he was chairman in 1928, 1932 and 1948, by which time it had become the British Cardiac Society.

In 1907 he was a founder member of the Association of Physicians, and in 1948 its president, in 1928-9 president of the Liverpool Medical Institute, and from 1906 to 1913 editor of the Liverpool Medico-Chirurgical Journal. At the College he was a member of Council from 1930 to 1932, and Bradshaw lecturer in 1923. He was also St. Cyres lecturer in 1933 and Strickland Goodall lecturer in 1936.

As a gifted clinician he was a simple, forthright teacher of the essentials of physical examination, and of the necessity of treating every patient as an individual. He was a keen violinist, gardener and bee-keeper, a good painter and an excellent draughtsman and caricaturist, and was in great demand as an after-dinner speaker.

In 1906 he married Agnes Margaret, daughter of William Duncan, a practitioner, of Tyldesley, Lancashire. They had two sons and two daughters; all save one daughter entered the medical profession.

Richard R Trail

[Brit. Heart J., 1959, 21, 573-7 (p); Brit.med.J., 1959, 1, 1190-91 (p); Lancet, 1959, 1, 946 (p); Liverpool Daily Post, 23 Apr. 1959; Times, 23 Apr. 1959.]

(Volume V, page 178)

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