Lives of the fellows

James Leatham Birley

b.12 July 1884 d.6 March 1934
CBE(1919) MA DM Oxon MRCS FRCP(1919)

James Birley was born at Lingfield, Surrey, the son of Francis Hornby Birley of Sevenoaks. He was educated at Winchester and University College, Oxford, and, having gained a first-class degree in natural science in 1908, proceeded to St. Thomas’s Hospital for his clinical training. Qualifying in 1911, he filled house appointments both there and at the National Hospital for the Paralysed and Epileptic. After the outbreak of war, he went out to France with the Royal Flying Corps and soon attained the position of its chief medical officer in France, receiving the C.B.E. in 1919. He later became consulting physician to the Royal Air Force and a member of the War Office committee on shell-shock. In 1920, after returning to civilian life, he delivered the Goulstonian Lectures to the Royal College of Physicians on the medical problems of flying and the adaptability of the human organism to the stresses involved. A year earlier he had been elected assistant physician to St. Thomas’s and in 1928 he became a full physician, succeeding Sir Farquhar Buzzard as director of the neurological department. He was also assistant physician to the National Hospital for a few years. Although he published little, Birley impressed by the soundness of his outlook and the strength of his character. Among his accomplishments were prowess on the cricket field and at the billiard table; and he was a skilled pianist. He married in 1922 Edith, widow of Major A. A. Mercer and daughter of W. A. Tennant of Ugley, Essex, and had two sons and a daughter. He died at Ugley.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1934; B.M.J., 1934]

(Volume IV, page 562)

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