Lives of the fellows

Frank Charles Shrubsall

b.9 March 1874 d.25 September 1935
MA MD Cantab MRCS DPH RCPI FRCP(1912)

Frank Shrubsall went to Merchant Taylors’ School as a boy and Clare College, Cambridge, as an undergraduate. He gained a double first in natural sciences at the University and the Shuter and Brackenbury scholarships at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, where he did his clinical training. Having qualified in 1900, he obtained resident appointments at St. Bartholomew’s and the Brompton Hospital. His next few years were spent in anthropological investigations — a paper read to the B.M.A. in 1904 established his reputation in this field — and in lecturing on physiology and anatomy to teachers of physical training at Chelsea Polytechnic. In 1908 he was appointed to a Hunterian professorship at the Royal College of Surgeons. In 1909 his career took firm shape when he joined James Kerr in the work of building up the medical services of L.C.C. schools — a task which utilised his special knowledge of the physical measurements of school-children. In 1910 he investigated the aetiology of rheumatism with Dr. Jane Gilmour, whom he later married. He was then, in 1912, given charge of L.C.C. schools for the mentally and physically defective, a responsibility greatly augmented when, in 1914, the L.C.C. became the local authority for mental deficiency. His duties were again enlarged when, in 1920, the care of the blind came under his direction and when, on the retirement of Kerr and Collie, the health of teachers and of L.C.C. employees generally — whose number was greatly increased by the Local Government Act of 1930 — was entrusted to his supervision.

Shrubsall, who came to be recognised as an authority on the "problem child", lectured at the Maudsley Hospital, where he was outpatient physician, and at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and organised the practical side of courses in mental deficiency established by public bodies in London. With A. C. Williams, he published a standard work, Mental Deficiency Practice, in 1932. His achievements were all the more remarkable in that he was a lifelong victim of asthma. His frequent travels to all corners of the world, indeed, were made partly for his health’s sake. As a medical officer, he was noted for the understanding and sympathy with which he tackled the problems of the defective. He died in Hampstead, survived by his wife and daughter.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1935; B.M.J., 1935; Presidential Address to R.C.P., 1936, 11]

(Volume IV, page 525)

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