Lives of the fellows

Arthur Salusbury (Sir) MacNalty

b.20 October 1880 d.11 April 1969
KCB(1936) BA Oxon(1904) MRCS LRCP(1907) BM BCh(1909) MA DM(1911) MRCP(1925) DPH Eng(1927) FRCP(1930) FRCS(1939) Hon FRSE Hon FRSM

Arthur MacNulty was born at Glenridding, Westmorland, the eldest son of F.C. MacNalty, MD, and of Hester Emma Frances Gardner, the daughter of the Rev. Arthur Downes Gardner, MA (Oxon), Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford, and Vicar of Holywell, Flintshire. Mrs. F.C. MacNalty was descended from Sir John Piozzi Salusbury, the nephew and adopted son of Mrs. Piozzi (Mrs. Thrale).

Arthur MacNalty was educated at Hartley College, now the University of Southampton, and at St. Catherine’s Society and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he was a Shute Exhibitioner, and he took a second class in the Oxford Honour School of Physiology.

From Oxford he went to University College Hospital, London, where he was a Filliter Exhibitioner and qualified MRCS, LRCP in 1907. He was casualty officer at that hospital the same year, then house surgeon, and in 1908 house physician.From 1908 to 1911 he was resident medical officer at the Brompton Hospital, and from 1911 to 1913 deputy assistant physician, and during the same period medical registrar at the London Hospital.

In 1913 it looked as if he was destined to become a chest physician, but then Sir Arthur Newsholme recommended John Bums to offer him a Medical Inspectorship in the Local Government Board, and in preparation for this MacNalty worked for nearly a year as Assistant Medical Officer and Tuberculosis Officer to Essex County Council, under their progressive County Medical Officer, J. Thresh.

So in 1913 he was appointed a Medical Inspector to the Local Government Board, and when the Ministry of Health was formed in 1919 he became a Medical Officer and later a Senior Medical Officer of that Ministry.

During the First World War he was seconded to the War Office for the inspection of military camps and hospitals and of outbreaks of infectious diseases.

In 1935, on the retirement of Sir George Newman, he was appointed Chief Medical Officer of the Ministries of Health and Education, a post which he held until his retirement in 1941. From 1920 to 1932 he was Secretary of the Tuberculosis Committee of the Medical Research Council, and with L.S.T. Burrell he promoted the practice of artificial pneumothorax.

But besides his work in this field he investigated and reported on An Obscure Disease, Encephalitis Lethargica to the Local Government Board in 1918, and Lymphadenoma with Relapsing Pyrexia to the Ministry of Health in 1928.

During the Second World War he was Chairman of the Committees on Hospital and Nursing Provision of the Committee of Imperial Defence, and he organized the medical administration of the Emergency Medical Services and the Evacuation Scheme of the Ministry of Health.

In 1927 he delivered the Milroy Lectures to the Royal College of Physicians on Epidemic Diseases of the Central Nervous System, and in 1948 the FitzPatrick Lectures on The History of State Medicine in England. He was Editor in Chief of The Official Medical History of the Second World War (21 vols.), and also Editor in Chief of The British Medical Dictionary.

He was made an Hon. Freeman of the Society of Apothecaries and of the Barbers’ Company. He was an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, where he was at one time President of the Sections of Epidemiology and of the History of Medicine.

Besides his medical publications he was the author of A Book of Crimes (1929), The Mystery of Captain Burnaby (1931), The Three Churchills (1949), Henry VIII; A Difficult Patient (1952), Elizabeth Tudor; The Lonely Queen (1954), The Princes in the Tower (1955), and Mary Queen of Scots; The Daughter of Debate (1960).

MacNalty was a Christian gentleman, whose wisdom, learning, and strength of character were to some extent masked by his modesty and his sudden nervous smile. He was a man of unswerving loyalty and unfailing kindness.

Sir Weldon Dalrymple-Champneys

[Brit.med.J., 1969, 2, 252, 319, 389, 640; Lancet, 1969, 1, 896; Times, 18 & 24 Apr, 21 June 1969; Epsom & Ewell Herald, 24 Apr & 26 June 1969, Sutton & Cheam Advertiser, 24 Apr 1969; Roy. Soc. Health J., June 1969]

(Volume VI, page 321)

<< Back to List