Lives of the fellows

Frederick Norton Kay (Sir) Menzies

b.2 November 1875 d.14 May 1949
KBE(1932) MB ChB Edin(1899) MD Edin(1903) DPH Eng(1905) Hon LLD Edin(1933) FRCPE(1907) FRSE(1927) *FRCP(1932)

Frederick Menzies was born at Caernarvon, the second son of John Menzies, a civil engineer, and Edith Madeline, daughter of Robert Kay, of Burnley, Lancashire. He was educated at Llandovery College and the University of Edinburgh. He did post-graduate work in Vienna and Berlin and held resident posts at the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, and in London at the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, the Brompton Hospital and the Western Fever Hospital. In 1907 he was appointed demonstrator and lecturer in public health at University College under Professor H. R. Kenwood; he also became Kenwood’s deputy as medical officer of health of Stoke Newington, a metropolitan borough.

In 1920 he joined the staff of the London County Council as a part-time assistant medical officer, becoming a full time officer two years later. His main work was to inaugurate a school medical service for the East End of London. His next important task was to devise the Council’s scheme for the control of tuberculosis, followed during the First World War by one for the diagnosis and treatment of venereal diseases. These two schemes began a fruitful association with the London voluntary hospitals which ripened with the years.

In 1924 he exchanged his appointment with the Council from full time to part-time so that he could take up a post as director of hospitals and medical services for the joint committee of the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. In 1926, however, he returned to full time work on his appointment as medical officer of health and school medical officer of the L.C.C. He held this office until 1939 when he retired to his native North Wales, where he undertook voluntary work as an inspector of hospitals and convalescent homes for the Red Cross Society and the Order of St. John. In 1945 he returned to London where he was in great demand for committee work.

At one period of his career he had to decide whether he should leave London, become a country squire and live in Norfolk, where he had inherited a much-loved property, or accept the wearing life of a chief officer of the largest local authority in the country. He chose the latter and only gave it up when his health began to fail. His greatest and most difficult task was the taking over in 1930 and the administration, as the L.C.C. Hospital Service, of the seventy-two hospitals containing 42,000 beds of the Metropolitan Asylums Board and the twenty-five Metropolitan Boards of Guardians. At this period he was largely responsible for the British Postgraduate Medical School being located at Hammersmith Hospital.

He was large in stature, broad in mind and sound in judgment. He would fight expediency when proposed as a temporary substitute for what he thought to be right. He was a first-class administrator, had the gift of exposition, and was an active member of committees, governmental and voluntary. He received many honours including the K.B.E, in 1932, the Knighthood of Grace of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem in 1934, and the Bissett Hawkins medal of the College in 1941. He was an Honorary Physician to the King from 1937 to 1940. He examined in public health for the Conjoint Board and for Liverpool and other universities, and was chairman of the London committee of the British Hospital at Port Said; it was on the return voyage from a visit there that he was taken ill and died shortly after at his London home.

In 1916 he married Harriet May, daughter of Edward Honoratus Lloyd, K.C., who survived him with a son and a daughter. His elder son, a regular soldier, was killed in action in Normandy in 1944.

Richard R Trail

* He was elected under the special bye-law which provides for the election to the fellowship of "Persons holding a medical qualification, but not Members of the College, who have distinguished themselves in the practice of medicine, or in the pursuit of Medical or General Science or Literature..."

[Brit.med.J., 1949, 1, 913-14 (p); J. roy. Inst. publ. Hlth Hyg., 1949, 12, 202; Lancet, 1949, 1, 890-91 (p); Times, 16 May 1949; D.N.B., 1941-50, 585-7.]

(Volume V, page 284)

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