Lives of the fellows

Jeffrey Ramsay

b.25 May 1884 d.25 October 1940
OBE(1919) MB BS Lond(1907) MD Lond(1909) MRCS LRCP(1907) MRCP(1925) FRCP(1937)

Jeffrey Ramsay was born at Heaton Mersey, Cheshire. His father, Peter Jeffrey Ramsay, was managing director of the Manchester and Liverpool District Bank; his mother was Harriet, the daughter of Edward Dudley Jackson Wilks, a nonconformist minister. From the Grammar School of Manchester he went to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, and then to residential posts at the Royal Infirmary of Blackburn, where he settled in general practice with Robert Aitkin, F.R.C.S. He had already been, for two years, honorary physician to the Infirmary when he joined the R.A.M.C, in 1915.

His arduous work as medical specialist with a Casualty Clearing Station in France earned him two mentions in dispatches and later the O.B.E., and fostered a life interest in pathology, which brought the establishment of a clinical laboratory and the post of pathologist at Blackburn Royal Infirmary. In 1924 he was elected full physician. In the 1930’s his health deteriorated steadily, and he was planning a new blood transfusion service for his area in 1940 when he died suddenly from cerebral haemorrhage.

The warmth of his nature and power of his simple but strong character that gave confidence and hope to his patients were recognised in the tablet which his colleagues placed to his memory in his laboratory. His idol was James Mackenzie, who had been in general practice at Burnley; Ramsay spent many hours working with Mackenzie’s polygraph which he used in practice without the advantages of university aids. His hobbies were few and simple: country walks, morning horse-rides on the moors, and evening conversation.

In 1913 he married Alice, daughter of Walter Illingworth, a stockbroker in Blackburn. She died four months after him, leaving two daughters and one son.

Richard R Trail

[, 1940, 2, 650; Lancet, 1940, 2, 608-20, 670.]

(Volume V, page 342)

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