Lives of the fellows

Alexander William Hendry

b.18 October 1889 d.22 July 1972
OBE(1918) MB ChB Aberd(1914) MD(1918) MRCP(1924) FRCP(1941)

Alexander Hendry was born in a suburb of Aberdeen at Bridge House, Woodside. His father, Alexander William Hendry, was registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages for the district and also pursued a business as a granite merchant, from his residence. His mother, Christine, was the daughter of William Leith, a quarry owner.

Alec Hendry was educated at the Central School, Aberdeen and thereafter qualified as a pharmacist. At the age of 20 he entered the Faculty of Medicine in the University of Aberdeen, graduating MB, ChB with distinction in 1914. After graduation, he attended the London Hospital where he studied neurology under Sir Henry Head, and on the outbreak of War was commissioned in the RAMC.

In France, as battalion medical officer to 63rd Brigade RFA and later as medical officer with No. 16 General Hospital he treated some of the first gas casualties; his experiences were recorded in the first medical article published on gas warfare Some general notes on suffocation by poisonous gases (1915).

Late in 1916 he was wounded and gassed and after his recovery he was posted as medical specialist to the British Military Hospital at Corragh, Ireland. In 1918 his distinguished military service was recognised by the award of the OBE. In 1920 he was demobilised with the rank of Captain.

He returned to Aberdeen University and was appointed assistant in the department of Materia Medica, followed in 1923 by his appointment as honorary assistant physician to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. From 1937 to 1948, when he retired, he was honorary physician in charge of wards. He also held the post of physician to Morningfield Hospital, a hospital catering for the chronic sick, from 1927 to 1959 and was in charge of general medical wards at Stracathro Hospital from 1939 to 1954.

Hendry was a general physician and early in his career evinced an interest in clinical neurology, particularly multiple sclerosis, becoming the first chairman of the local branch of the Multiple Sclerosis Society. His special interest, however, was in psychiatry, and in the early thirties, before a Department of Psychological Medicine was established in the University, he was one of the few who were impressed by the importance of psychoneurotic illness. He was the only physician to give psychiatric instruction to undergraduates at this time and the latter recognised this pioneering spirit by his quotation from "As you like it" in the final year dinner menu of the 1931 class of medicine - "I profess by curing him by counsel".

Later in life he devoted much of his time to caring for chronic sick patients in Morningfield Hospital and his long experience there made him a valuable member of the Aberdeen Old People’s Council on which he served for many years. He worked for a long time for the Red Cross and gave continuous support to his wife who was County Officer to the Aberdeenshire branch.

In 1946 he was elected President of the Aberdeen Medico-Chirurgical Society.

He retired from Aberdeen Royal Infirmary in 1948 and from all hospital work in 1959, residing at 13, Albyn Terrace, Aberdeen until his death.

Alec Hendry was a quite, modest man, very gentle and humble, and his success as a teacher of students was partly due to the example he showed by unfailing kindness to his patients. With his white hair and fatherly appearance, even in middle age, he was affectionately known to his colleagues and students as "Pop". He had little time for many interests outside medicine. His main hobby was reading literature on medicine, philosophy and ancient religions. He was a keen motorist and had a profound love of animals, particularly dogs.

On 16th April 1916 he married Eileen Johann, whose father Sylvester Hogan was railway manager in Inchicore, Dublin. His wife was devoted to him and the marriage was a very happy one. There were no children.

Ian Gordon

[Brit.med.J., 1972, 3, 479; Lancet, 1972, 2, 286]

(Volume VI, page 235)

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