Lives of the fellows

Philip Henry Pye-Smith

b.1840 d.23 May 1914
BA Lond(1858) MB(1863) MD Hon MD Dubl FRCP(1870) FRS Hon FCP Philadelphia

P. H. Pye-Smith was the son of Ebenezer Pye-Smith, F.R.C.S, a well-known doctor in Hackney, and the grandson of Rev. John Pye-Smith, D.D., F.R.S. He went to school at Mill Hill and read classics at University College, London, graduating as B.A. in 1858. Guy’s Hospital was his medical school and he took his M.B. degree there with high distinction in 1863. He then studied at Paris under Trousseau, Berlin under Virchow, and Vienna under Hebra; Huxley at this time referred to him as the best educated young man in London. In 1865 he returned to Guy’s as lecturer on comparative anatomy and zoology and, during his ten years in this post, reorganised its museum. In 1866 he was made demonstrator of anatomy and in 1871, after a year as registrar, assistant physician. After taking charge of the skin department in 1877, he became a recognised consultant in skin diseases. He was appointed lecturer on physiology at Guy’s in 1873, full physician in 1883 and lecturer on medicine in 1884; he retired from the staff in 1899.

Pye-Smith was distinguished as a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians; he was a Censor and delivered the Lumleian Lectures in 1892 and the Harveian Oration in 1893. He took a keen interest in the affairs of London University; he was its representative on the General Medical Council from 1899 to 1909, and vice-chancellor from 1903 to 1905. His most valuable service, however, was perhaps his editorship of Hilton Fagge’s unfinished work on the Principles and Practice of Medicine, first published in 1886 after the author’s death. Largely rewritten by Pye-Smith, it reached a fourth edition in 1901. Although he was undistinguished as an original observer, his writings, like his lectures, demonstrated his skill in the didactic presentation of facts and doctrines. He was given to oracular pronouncements, yet he made a happy after-dinner speaker. He married Gertrude, daughter of Arthur Foulger of Chigwell, and had one son.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1914; B.M.J., 1914; Presidential Address to R.C.P., 1915, 24]

(Volume IV, page 185)

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