Lives of the fellows

Frederick Samuel Langmead

b.17 March 1879 d.29 October 1969
MB BS Lond(1902) MD(1904) MRCP(1906) FRCP(1913)

Frederick Samuel Langmead was born at Bovey Tracey in Devon, coming from a family who had been farmers in Devonshire for several generations. His mother was Nancy Hannaford, daughter of a West Country farmer. His family left Devonshire in 1881 and settled in West Sussex, where Langmead went first to school at Clymping and was coached at Littlehampton before going on to Cranleigh School. From Cranleigh he went to St. Mary’s Hospital, London, and he took his MB London in 1902, followed by his MD in 1904. He was house physician and registrar at St. Mary’s and later became medical registrar at the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, and casualty physician at St. Mary’s.

At St. Mary’s he learnt physiology under Waller and came under the influence of Almroth Wright who had just been appointed pathologist to the Hospital. He was house physician to Sidney Phillips in 1902 and soon showed a special interest in children and paediatric medicine. He was appointed to the staff of Paddington Green Children’s Hospital, and Physician to Out Patients at Great Ormond Street in 1912. He was at the same time on the staff of the Royal Free Hospital and of the Seaman’s Hospital, Greenwich. In 1921 he was appointed director of the Professorial Medical Unit at St. Mary’s Hospital and physician-in-charge of the Children’s Department.

Langmead took his MRCP in 1906 and was elected a Fellow in 1913. He wrote many articles in medical journals and was especially interested in children’s diseases, being Editor of the section on medical diseases of children in the Medical Annual for many years. With Sir Malcolm Morris and Sir Gordon Holmes he was co-editor of the big Dictionary of Practical Medicine. Amongst his contributions to medical journals were articles on mongolism, Graves’ disease, calcinosis, renal rickets and anaemia in infants; he described one of the first cases every recorded of achalasia of the cardia in a small child.

During the 1914-18 war he served in the rank of Major at the 60th General Hospital, Salonika.

From 1940-41 he was Censor of the College, and he was Senior Censor in 1943.

Langmead was one of the first full time Professors of Medicine in England and though he did not contribute greatly to original research he trained many students in the best traditions of clinical medicine. He was modest and gentle, and his kindness, sympathy and understanding made him an ideal physician. His diagnostic skill, especially with small children, was exceptional. His students were devoted to him, and his integrity and sincerity made him a teacher of high quality. He lived at a time of rapidly developing laboratory and scientific techniques and he contributed greatly to the successful union of bedside, experimental and scientific methods in diagnosis and treatment.

In 1913 he married Olive, youngest daughter of the Rev. Thomas Gray, Vice-Provost of Trinity College, Dublin, who died in 1956. They had no children. He died in Sussex on October 29th, 1969 at the age of 90.

He was a keen mountain walker and an expert and enthusiastic gardener. When he retired from his Chair of Medicine he lived at his country home in Sussex and enjoyed his garden and his books for many years; even when his sight failed and he lost these pleasures he still showed those characteristics of quiet courage and serenity which had earned him so many friends during his life.

TC Hunt

[Brit.med.J., 1969, 4, 372, 438, 567; Lancet, 1969, 29, 1016; Times, 1 Nov 1969; Shoreham Herald, 13 Feb 1970; West Sussex Gazette, 6 Nov 1969]

(Volume VI, page 273)

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