Lives of the fellows

Frederick Walker (Sir) Mott

b.23 October 1853 d.8 June 1926
KBE(1919) MD Lond Hon LLD Edin FRCP(1892) FRS

Frederick Mott was born at Brighton, the only son of Henry Mott and his wife Caroline, daughter of William Fuller of Pulborough. He began his medical education at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, and from there proceeded to University College, London, and, finally, to Vienna. After qualifying in 1880, he held the usual junior appointments in University College Hospital and worked in Schafer’s laboratory for two years. In 1883, he was appointed assistant professor of physiology at Liverpool University, but returned to London a year later to become lecturer on physiology at Charing Cross Hospital. This post he retained till 1895, afterwards holding lectureships on pathology (1900-03) and medicine (1907-13). He was elected assistant physician in 1890, physician in 1903, and consulting physician in 1913.

The researches for which he became famous, however, were achieved in his capacity as pathologist to the L.C.C. Asylums, working in the laboratory at Clay bury from 1895 till 1916 and thereafter, till 1923, at the Maudsley Hospital. It was Mott who finally established the fact, previously suggested by Krafft-Ebing, that general paralysis of the insane was due to syphilis and associated with the presence of the specific spirochaete. He also elucidated many of the problems of dementia praecox and the part played by heredity in insanity. In general he upheld the view that mental disorders were in the main associated with bodily changes. Mott also effected practical improvements in the treatment of the insane and promoted the founding of the Maudsley Hospital. During the War of 1914-1918, as a lieutenant-colonel attached to the 4th London General Hospital, he turned his attention to the treatment of shell-shock. After retiring from his L.C.C. post in 1923, Mott continued to lecture and direct research at the Maudsley Hospital and at Birmingham University till his death.

Mott’s achievements won him numerous honours. He was a Censor of the Royal College of Physicians — whose Diploma in Psychological Medicine he helped to institute — delivered the Croonian Lectures in 1900, the Oliver-Sharpey Lectures in 1910 and the Harveian Oration in 1925, and received the Moxon Medal in 1918. He was also awarded the B.M.A.’s Stewart prize in 1903 and the Medical Society of London’s Fothergill gold medal in 1911; he was Lettsomian Lecturer in 1916. He was president of the Medico-Psychological Association at the time of his death. He was created K.B.E. in 1919. For all his fame, Mott was a simple, unaffected and kindly man, devoted to music and an authority on choral works. He married in 1885 Georgina Alexandra, daughter of George Thomas Solly, and had four daughters. He died at Birmingham.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1926; B.M.J., 1926; D.N.B., 1922-30, 626; Mott Memorial Committee, Contributions to psychiatry, neurology and sociology, 1929]

(Volume IV, page 358)

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