Lives of the fellows

Samuel Lawrence Ludbrook

b.31 August 1895 d.3 July 1976
CMG(1970) MB ChB Otago(1919) MRCP(1924) FRACP(1939) FRCP(1950)

Samuel Ludbrook was born at Ohaewai, Bay of Islands, North Auckland, the eldest of seven children. His father was a sheep farmer in the region. His mother was Hana Kinsella before marriage. Samuel was a great-grandson of Archdeacon Henry Williams, a very distinguished Anglican missionary whose daughter Caroline married his grandfather.

His primary education was at Takapuna and Huntly Schools, Marton, while his secondary education was at Wanganui Collegiate School, after which he proceeded to the Otago Medical School to qualify in 1919.

He was a house surgeon at the Auckland Hospital for two years and intended following a surgical career. The year 1922 was spent as a general practitioner locum at Tokomaru Bay on the east coast of the North Island, visiting patients on horseback or a model T Ford.

In 1923 he went to England where he obtained posts as house physician at the Royal Northern, and St George’s Hospital under Sir Henry Letheby Tidy, who was responsible for his pursuing training in general medicine. At St George’s Hospital he continued to play rugby but sustained a 4th nerve palsy with diplopia, resulting in a distinctive posture of the head which remained throughout life.

After obtaining his MRCP in 1925 he was RMO at the Shadwell Children’s Hospital, where he remained for almost two years. On returning to Auckland in 1925 he became acting medical superintendent at the Auckland Hospital for six months. In 1926 he was appointed consultant physician to the Children’s Hospital, and commenced practice as a consulting physician with a special interest in pediatrics.

He served as a captain and a major in the NZ Medical Corps, serving in the Pacific in 1945.

Samuel Ludbrook was a tall man of gentle manner and speech, with a warm, thoughtful personality which endeared him to child patients and their parents. His long experience and deep knowledge rendered him an excellent teacher and administrator, greatly respected by his contemporaries in the hospital service. He was the prime mover in establishing the Children’s Hospital, and was the outstanding paediatrician of his time in Auckland and, indeed, New Zealand.

As a keen sportsman he pursued tennis, polo, horse racing and trout fishing.

In December 1927 he married Ailsa, daughter of Robert Bums, a merchant in Auckland. He had three sons who survived him, one of whom, John Ludbrook FRCS, became professor of surgery in Adelaide University.

TG Fox

(Volume VII, page 346)

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