Lives of the fellows

Hugh James Orr-Ewing

b.1 May 1891 d.28 March 1987
MC MRCS LRCP(1913) MB BS Lond(1913) MD(1917) MRCP(1918) FRCP(1931)

Hugh James Orr-Ewing was born in Northamptonshire but his family moved to Weston-super-Mare when he was 12 years old. He entered the Bristol medical school in 1908 and qualified with the Conjoint in 1913. He graduated in the same year with distinction in the clinical subjects and was awarded the University gold medal. After holding house appointments at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, he joined the RAMC at the outbreak of the 1914-18 war and served in France until 1916, when he was invalided home. He was awarded the Military Cross after the battle of Loos.

In 1917 Orr-Ewing passed the London MD, again with the gold medal, and a year later was admitted to the membership of the College. A devout Christian, he became a medical missionary and in 1920 was posted to Jerusalem. He served for about 12 years as medical superintendent of the English Mission Hospital, and was also appointed honorary consulting physician to the government of Palestine. During this time he achieved considerable distinction and was elected to the Fellowship of the College.

Orr-Ewing was long remembered in medical circles in Jerusalem, with admiration and affection. Returning to England in 1934 he was appointed assistant physician to the Bristol General Hospital and also physician to Clifton College. He became a full physician in 1945, and retired in 1956.

Hugh Orr-Ewing was president of the Bath, Bristol and Somerset branch of the British Medical Association for the session 1946-47 and gave his presidential address on ‘The History of Arabian medicine’. Three years later he was elected president of the Bristol Medico-Chirurgical Society; his address was on ‘Medicine in 18th century Bristol’.

After his retirement he continued to lead an active life and was a member of many committees and chairman of not a few. Many of these were connected with the Church of England of which he was an active member. He was a lay reader for 58 years.

Orr-Ewing was a great raconteur with a never-ending fund of stories. It has been said that all the best of these started ‘When I was in Palestine...’. A keen and enthusiastic golfer, it was sad that a few years before his death he lost one eye in a golfing accident. This loss was borne with much fortitude, as was - for over 20 years - his gradually increasing deafness. Before his death he made a tape recording, which he wished played at his funeral, in which he affirmed his Christian faith and his confident belief in a future life.

B Perry

(Volume VIII, page 365)

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