Lives of the fellows

Maurice Elgie Shaw

b.1 July 1894 d.30 October 1977
MA Oxon(1921) BM BCh(1921) MRCP(1923) FRCP(1934)

Maurice Shaw was born at the dean’s residence at Guy’s Hospital. His father, Lauriston Shaw FRCP, was physician to the hospital and dean of the medical school. His mother was born Mary Spalding, the daughter of Howard Spalding, director of Spalding and Hodge, stationers. John Spalding FRCP, consultant neurologist to the Oxford United Hospitals, was a cousin.

Maurice Shaw was educated at Bradfield College and at New College, Oxford, before 1914. His studies were interrupted by the war in which he served as a combatant in France and in the Dardanelles, attaining the rank of captain in the Gloucestershire Regiment. In 1917 he was demobilized through ill health and resumed his studies at Oxford, and later at Guy’s. His MA dates from 1921 and in the same year he qualified BM BCh (Oxon). In 1923 he became a member of the Royal College of Physicians and in 1934 was elected to the fellowship. He was an examiner in medicine to the College and Oxford University.

After qualifying, he was house physician at Guy’s and later medical registrar. With a Radcliffe travelling fellowship he studied abroad in the USA and in Paris. In 1927 he was appointed assistant physician to the West London Hospital and shortly afterwards joined the staff of East Ham Memorial and other small hospitals. He also became chief medical officer to the Canada Life Assurance company, succeeding his father. He worked in the emergency medical service from 1939 to 1945 at Upton Hospital, Slough, and at Maidenhead and Windsor Hospitals.

Maurice Shaw was a general physician, but gastroenterology was his main interest and he belonged to the British Society of Gastroenterology. He was highly esteemed as a teacher. His students learnt from him the importance of taking a careful history, and his evident concern for his patients as individuals set an example. One of his registrars recalls how his teaching rounds were often interrupted if a patient’s unusual occupation or hobby fascinated him. The West London Hospital had held a postgraduate college since the end of the last century. In 1937 this was closed and an undergraduate school for women begun, as there were so few places open to them in the old medical schools. Maurice Shaw was made dean of the new school, and this post, which he held until his retirement in 1959, gave him the opportunity of making his greatest contribution.

He was not only their teacher, but also the adviser and friend of his students, always available to them. Many who are now consultants owe him the chance of continuing their education after being rejected by some other medical school, after failing an early examination. Later, the West London school accepted numbers of students from the Commonwealth, particularly Nigeria and Malaysia. Maurice Shaw kept in touch with them after their return home, and they often called on him when visiting London.

For many years he was a faithful member of the West London Medico-Chirurgical Society, and he was at one time its president.

His main hobby was music, especially part-singing and the piano. He was a keen gardener and many of his colleagues recall the delightful summer evenings when he entertained old students at his lovely home, Morton House, in Chiswick Mall, where he lived from 1952 until his death in 1977.

In 1927 Shaw married Christine Beck, the daughter of Conrad Beck, managing director of R & J Beck, manufacturers of precision optical instruments. The Shaws had four children, two daughters and two sons, one of whom, Jonathan, became a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and consultant neonatal paediatrician to University College Hospital.

LPE Laurent

[Brit.med.J., 1977, 2, 1360; Lancet, 1977, 2, 1041]

(Volume VII, page 529)

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