b.September 1864 d.20 October 1943
MA Oxon(1887) BM BCh Oxon(1892) DM Oxon(1899) MRCP(1901) FRCP(1926)
Eric Pritchard, now recognised as a pioneer in child health, was born at Freshwater, one of the gifted family of Charles Pritchard, D.D.,Savilian professor of astronomy at Oxford. He was educated at Clifton, Hertford College, Oxford, and St. Mary’s Hospital, and spent his vacations on study in Berlin. After house posts, a short time in general practice, and three years as a medical inspector of schools for the London County Council, he was appointed to the St. Marylebone Dispensary, where he founded the first of London’s infant welfare centres in 1906. By then he was on the staff of Queen Charlotte’s Maternity Hospital and out-patient physician to the City of London Hospital. At all three he developed a practical interest in the day to day problems of the feeding and management of infants. His ideas on weekly weighing and ‘percentage feeding’ to maintain what he called ‘the expected weight’, and on the value of dried as against fresh milk as an alternative to breast feeding, and his advanced beliefs on the necessity of the vitamins in fresh fruit juice and cod liver oil made him to Sir Robert Mond the ideal first director of the Infants’ Hospital, Vincent Square, in 1922. There, and at the Wellgarth Nursery Training College, he gave fascinating and vital lectures during the following fourteen years that were a major factor in the steady decline in child mortality.
At various times during his last thirty years he was closely associated with the work of the National Association of Infant Consultations and Schools for Mothers, the National Baby Week Council, the Child Study Society, the British Paediatric Association and the section for the study of disease in children of the Royal Society of Medicine.
Pritchard was a tall, loose-limbed man, with a pugnacious face that was attractive despite its ruggedness. Though a charming and cultured host, he could at times be gruff and show a caustic wit, which, like his inclination to brusque dogmatism in his lectures and prolific writings, was probably due to the attitude of his fellow-specialists. He was twenty years ahead of his time, and did not live to enjoy the gratitude he deserved.
He was married twice; firstly in 1894 to Marian Elizabeth, daughter of Walter M. Westropp Dawson, of Ferns, Ireland, by whom he had one son; secondly to Ellen Beatrice, daughter of William Foster, of Hove.
Richard R Trail
[Brit.med.J., 1943, 2, 591-2, 766; Lancet, 1943, 2, 589-90 (p), 687.]
(Volume V, page 340)
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