Lives of the fellows

Eric Bellingham-Smith

b.27 August 1881 d.5 February 1970
MB BS Lond(1905) MD(1907) MRCP(1910) FRCP(1924)

Eric Bellingham-Smith was born at Lee, Kent, the son of Henry Bellingham-Smith, a broker, and Frances Machin. He received his medical education at Guy’s Hospital, where his elder brother - the well known artist - was on the honorary staff as obstetrician and gynaecologist. He graduated MB BS in 1905. His first interest was gynaecology and he proceeded MD in 1907, but then turned to general practice and paediatrics. About this time he began his long association with the Queen’s Hospital for Children (later Queen Elizabeth Hospital), serving as RMO there. He was chairman of the medical committee and a member of the management committee of the hospital for many years. At the beginning of the first world war he went out to work in Serbia with a privately organized ambulance service and after the collapse of that nation he joined the RAMC, serving in Egypt and obtaining the rank of major. It was while serving in Egypt and Palestine that he met his first wife, Barbara Mary Kenny, whose father was a director of the Royal Mail Steamship Company. They married in 1918 and had two sons. After demobilization he became assistant physician to St George’s Hospital in 1920, later consultant physician, and served the hospital loyally for twenty-five years.

He was a fine physician, a meticulous teacher, and a paediatrician of the old school with clinical acumen and insight of the first quality. He did research on many aspects of disease in children and his papers covered such subjects as enuresis, mongolism, typhoid fever, meningitis and speech defects. He was deeply interested in diseases of the heart and lungs and his professional aid was much appreciated by his colleagues. He became a Fellow of the College in 1924, serving as examiner for the Conjoint Board, and was a councillor and censor in 1946 and 1947.

Sadly, his wife Barbara developed tuberculosis and died in 1934 after a prolonged illness. Some years later he married her sister, Dorothy, having obtained a special dispensation from the Church as the family were Catholics: his sons were brought up in the same faith. He himself suffered a serious illness and major operation in 1941, but in spite of his chronic disability he spent many years of peace and happiness with his family in Sussex after his retirement, enjoying his garden and the country life. He frequently visited his old friend, Anthony Feiling, after dinner, to read and criticize their individual contributions to a medical book on which they were co-operating and despite this severe test of their friendship they never had a hard word. He was lovable character, a kind and gentle man, a loyal friend and a humble Christian gentleman.

A Feiling
Sir Gordon Wolstenholme

[Brit.med.J., 1970, 1, 504; Lancet, 1970, 1, 428]

(Volume VI, page 41)

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