Lives of the fellows

Reginald Charles Jewesbury

b.19 November 1878 d.28 November 1971
MRCS LRCP(1905) BM BCh Oxon(1905) MRCP(1907) MA DM(1912) FRCP(1915)

Reginald Jewesbury was born in Ceylon, where his father, Dr. Charles Frederick Jewesbury (who had qualified at University College Hospital), was in practice. When aged four years he came to England with his parents, who went to live at St. Ives, Cornwall. He had one sister who was born at St. Ives. His father died there at the age of 33 in 1883. The children with their mother, Louise Jewesbury, subsequently moved to Gloucester and then to London.

Jewesbury was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford, where he matriculated in 1897. He took his BA honours in natural science (physiology) in 1901. He entered St. Thomas’s Hospital medical school in 1902 and qualified with the conjoint diploma and the BM, BCh of Oxford in 1905. He became house physician to Out Patients at St. Thomas’s in 1905, and resident house physician the following year. He was awarded the Bristowe Medal for pathology in 1906, proceeded to MRCP in 1907, DM (Oxon.) in 1912, and was elected FRCP in 1915.

On completion of his resident post at St. Thomas’s in 1907 he was appointed medical registrar at Charing Cross Hospital. The study of children’s diseases and infant welfare attracted him early in his career. At that time paediatrics was not a recognised speciality in the London teaching hospitals, and the children’s departments were staffed by general physicians who had a particular interest in the subject. Jewesbury’s first honorary appointment was of this nature when in 1908 he became physician in charge both of Out Patients and of the Children’s Department of Charing Cross Hospital. As well as being assistant physician to the hospital, he soon took over the additional duties of joint pathologist. In 1908 he was also appointed assistant physician to the Victoria Hospital for Children, Chelsea. He continued on the staff of this hospital for the next thirty years. From 1911 to 1922 he was assistant physician to the London Fever Hospital.

After the First World War St. Thomas’s Hospital decided to institute a special Children’s Department, and Jewesbury was invited to organise it. He resigned from Charing Cross and returned to St. Thomas’s in 1919 as physician in charge of the Children’s Department. He had the greatest affection for his old hospital and this appointment was always a great source of pride and pleasure to him.

When he took over at St. Thomas’s he had also just become Medical Director of the Mothercraft Training Society in London, founded by Sir Frederick Truby King in 1918. Jewesbury was a convinced and enthusiastic supporter of the methods of infant feeding and management first advocated by Truby King in New Zealand. He continued his active teaching and clinical work for this Society, which subsequently became established at Cromwell House, Highgate, to the end of his career.

In 1932 Jewesbury published his only book, Mothercraft, Antenatal and Postnatal. In this he dealt with the common disorders of infancy and he described in particular detail the methods of infant feeding recommended by Truby King. A second edition was produced in 1937. Although the methods he advocated were over-elaborate and are now abandoned, they nevertheless represented an early attempt to apply scientific principles to infant feeding, and thus were of real importance.

Reginald Jewesbury was a foundation member of the British Paediatric Association, being one of the six paediatricians who attended under the chairmanship of Dr. Still at the inaugural meeting on the 2nd February, 1928. Twenty-four invitations had been issued. He was also a member of the Section for the Study of Disease in Children (as it was then known) at the Royal Society of Medicine, and he was elected President of the Section in 1934.

He retired from St. Thomas’s Hospital on reaching the age of 60 years in November, 1938. However, when the second world war broke out ten months later, he returned to work in the St. Thomas’s Sector of the Emergency Medical Service and had charge of beds for both children and adults at St. Luke’s Hospital, Guildford. He continued this work throughout the war and until his final retirement at the age of 70.

He always retained an affection for Oxford, and he was for many years Secretary of the Oxford Graduates Medical Club. He belonged to the Union Club where on occasion he enjoyed a game of billiards. He liked the countryside, was a good shot and also a photographer. He had no special interest in foreign travel or in the arts, but he appreciated good furniture and good pictures. After his initial retirement in 1938 he became a keen golfer. Modest and simple in his ways, he was slow and deliberate in manner and he disliked any form of pretentiousness.

As a teacher he was popular because of his clarity and conscientiousness, as became the fine clinician that he was, but probably his most lasting contribution to Medicine was the effect he had on the young men who worked for him. All he did was done with unhurried care and a gentleness and courtesy that were his own. His honesty was absolute and he made lesser men anxious to emulate him.

In 1907 he married Anne Caroline Oliphant Williamson, the third and youngest daughter of Oliphant Williamson, a Scottish stockbroker living in London. This was a supremely happy partnership and they celebrated in turn their golden and their diamond wedding anniversaries. They lived for forty-five years (from 1911 to 1956) at 5, Wimpole Street, an attractive Georgian house with a creeper growing up the front, and with a pair of ground-floor window boxes which Mrs. Jewesbury always kept filled and colourful. The last fifteen years of their life together were spent in a flat at Albion Gate, overlooking Hyde Park.

He remained active and alert to the end of his long life. He kept in touch with his friends, and shortly after his ninetieth birthday he was warmly welcomed when he attended a meeting of paediatricians, nearly all of them his old pupils, in part of the rebuilt St. Thomas’s Hospital. He died peacefully at home, aged 93. He was survived by his wife and two sons. His elder son, Eric C.O. Jewesbury, a consultant neurologist, was elected FRCP in 1957.

Lord Richardson

[, 1971, 4, 752; Times, 15 Dec 1972; St. Thos. Hosp. Gaz. 1972, 70(1), 26]

(Volume VI, page 255)

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