Lives of the fellows

James Mcclure Smellie

b.19 May 1893 d.3 April 1961
OBE(1944) TD(1950) MB ChB Edin(1916) MD Edin(1920) MD Birm(1947) MRCP(1922) FRCP(1932)

James Smellie was the son of Alderman James Smellie, a mayor of Dudley in Worcestershire, and his wife, the former Annie Grace Farrer. He entered Edinburgh Medical School from Dumfries Academy, and on graduation joined the R.A.M.C., serving for over three years in Salonika. A post as house physician under Professor Gulland at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and one of assistant casualty officer to the Hospital for Sick Children at Great Ormond Street were followed by his appointment as medical registrar and pathologist to the Queen’s Hospital, Birmingham.

In 1924 he became assistant physician to the Birmingham General Hopsital, and shortly afterwards medical tutor and lecturer in pharmacology and therapeutics and in diseases of children in the University of Birmingham, to which he was to render invaluable services over many years while building up a large consulting practice in medicine and paediatrics.

After the Munich crisis he rejoined the Territorial R.A.M.C, and commanded the medical division of the 14th General Hospital, with which he served in France, India, Burma and Assam until 1944, when he was appointed consultant to the Eastern Command in India as a brigadier.

On his return to Birmingham he became the first wholetime professor of paediatrics and child health, directing much excellent research at the Children’s Hospital, and writing on his special interests of coeliac disease (Lancet, 1952, 1, 836-42, etc.), and tuberculous meningitis (ibid., 1954. 2, 1201-3), in the treatment of which he made valuable advances.

He was an examiner to the College and to the Universities of London and Manchester, a president of the section of paediatrics of the Royal Society of Medicine, and in 1952 president of the British Paediatric Association, of which he had been a founder member. He was also chairman of the Birmingham Area Nurse Training Committee.

Smellie was remembered as an excellent chairman, a capable teacher and a kindly administrator, with a particular flair for committee work in which his modest, friendly manner made a friend of every member. Although he travelled widely his hobbies were his home and his golf. In 1929 he married Kathleen, daughter of Harry Lamsdale, of Sutton Coldfield; they had two sons.

Richard R Trail

[Brit.med.J., 1961, 1, 1113-14 (p); Lancet, 1961, 1, 834-5, 954; Times, 6 Apr.1961.]

(Volume V, page 382)

<< Back to List