Lives of the fellows

Thomas Newall Morgan

b.3 October 1907 d.4 May 1969
MB ChB Aberd(1931) MD(1934) MRCP(1946) FRCP(1954) FRCPE(1966)

Thomas Morgan was born in Aberdeen, the only child of George Morgan, a merchant, and Georgina Thomson. Educated at Robert Gordon’s College, Aberdeen, and at Aberdeen University he graduated in medicine in 1931, having gained the Thomson Scholarship, the Duthie Scholarship, the Anderson Gold Medal in clinical medicine and the Shepherd Gold Medal in clinical surgery. After house appointments in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Aberdeen Maternity Hospital and a few months in general practice, he was appointed assistant in the Department of Materia Medica under Professor (later Sir) David Cambell. He spent 1934 abroad, working under Professor Snapper in Amsterdam and Professor Aschoff in Freiburg, and that same year his University awarded him the degree of MD with Highest Honours, and the Thursfield award. On returning from Germany he resumed his work in pharmacology and combined this with clinical work in the wards of Sir Alexander Anderson at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. The following year he was given charge of wards as visiting physician at Woodend General Hospital. He continued to combine clinical and pharmacological work until 1959, when he left the Department of Materia Medica with the rank of Reader to devote himself to full-time clinical medicine. The union of pharmacology and clinical practice had proved fertile. Many studies were carried through combining the two and concerned in the main with uterine movement, the pharmacology of diuretics and the side effects of sulphonamides. It was a particular pleasure to him to arouse the interest of his juniors in research and to encourage them to pursue investigations of their own. Many a young man who has since made his mark in clinical practice, biochemistry and endocrinology owes his start to Tom Morgan.

The clinical period that followed, though it left little time for research, brought its own satisfactions. Well schooled in clinical method by his Chief, Sir Alexander Anderson, he had acquired a comprehensive knowledge of medicine with particular emphasis on neurology, and to his training he brought his own fine intelligence. The result was an outstanding clinician. To watch him unravel a clinical problem was a satisfying and illuminating experience. The parts of the jig-saw seemed to fall into place so easily and inevitably. His excellence was early recognised and it seemed the most natural thing in the world that so many of his colleagues should seek his advice for themselves and their families. To his Readership in Pharmacology was added a Readership in Medicine - a unique distinction. His impact on Medical School and Hospital was great and not only in teaching and clinical fields: allied to a keen analytical mind and a gift of clear and convincing statement there was a ready wit, a forthrightness of expression and a steady enmity to shoddy thought or shifty dealing.

Outside medicine his interests were catholic, and all were pursued with zest. He was good with his hands and enjoyed making things - a doll’s house, a barrow for the children, - or devising or modifying a piece of apparatus. He loved music and art and painted well. He was particularly good at painting birds, for ornithology was another of his loves. He was a keen and successful gardener, and a keen but not very successful angler and shot. One of the events he looked eagerly forward to each month was, in the summer, an excursion and, in the winter, a dinner with a small group of intimates sharing an interest in the antiquities of the North East of Scotland.

He married Roberta, daughter of Robert Gordon, fishcurer, Fraserburgh, and they had a daughter and son. Happy in wife and family, he liked his friends to share in his happiness. He lived life fully, and enjoyed it, and he possessed the love of many friends.

SG Davidson

[Brit.med.J., 1969, 2, 581; Lancet, 1969, 1, 1106; Press and Journal, Aberdeen, 6 May 1969; Aberd. Postgrad, med. Bull., Oct 1969, p. 59]

(Volume VI, page 346)

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