Lives of the fellows

Archibald Cathcart Roxburgh

b.17 August 1886 d.3 December 1954
MB ChB Cantab(1913) MA Cantab(1921) MD Cantab(1921) MRCS LRCP(1912) MRCP(1919) FRCP(1929)

Archibald Roxburgh, who was to become a distinguished teacher of dermatology, was born in Valparaiso, Chile, where his father, after whom he was named, had shipping interests connected with headquarters in Liverpool. His mother had been Janet Briggs, daughter of John F. Cathcart, of Edinburgh. His younger brother, John, was the first headmaster of Stowe School.

He was educated at Charterhouse, Trinity College, Cambridge, and St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, which he entered with a senior scholarship. He had just completed a year in resident house posts at his parent hospital when war was declared in 1914, and he immediately joined the Navy as a temporary surgeon with the rank of lieutenant, and served until 1918. He then decided to specialise in dermatology and returned to St. Bartholomew’s, where he was chief assistant to the skin department, 1919 to 1927, and assistant physician, 1927 to 1928, when he became physician-in-charge of the department and held the post until 1946. His other appointments were physician to St. John’s Hospital for Diseases of the Skin, 1924 to 1935, dean of the London School of Dermatology, 1924 to 1930, and dermatologist to the Royal Masonic and Wembley Hospitals, and to the Hampstead Hospital for Children.

Although Roxburgh was not a man of vivid personality he had a way with students and post-graduates because of his quiet sense of humour, and he got on well with his colleagues because of his continued interest in societies that would further knowledge in his specialty. He was president of the British Association of Dermatology in 1946, having been its secretary in the previous year, and editor of its official Journal from 1930 to 1938, president of the section of dermatology of the Royal Society of Medicine, 1943 to 1945, and president of the St. John’s Hospital Dermatological Society, 1930 to 1932. When he retired from the staff of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital he founded the Roxburgh prize for third year medical students.

Such conscientious work, and the success of his book, Common skin diseases (1952, etc.), which was illustrated by his own photographs, brought him well-deserved recognition on the Continent; he was a corresponding member of the Belgian, Danish and Hungarian Dermatological Societies. But the strain of the Second World War sapped his vitality and compelled him to retire from the staff of St. Bartholomew’s soon after his sixtieth birthday, although he continued working at the Royal Masonic Hospital and in a busy consulting practice.

In 1926 he married Mary, daughter of Col. J. A. Lambert, of Clanmorris, co. Mayo. They had three sons, all of whom qualified in medicine, and one daughter.

Richard R Trail

[Brit.J.Derm., 1955, 67, 33-4;, 1954, 2, 1424 (p); Lancet, 1954, 2, 1237-8 (p); St Bart’s Hosp.J., 1955, 49, 4 (p); Times, 4 Dec. 1954.]

(Volume V, page 361)

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