Lives of the fellows

Hugh Stannus Stannus

b.18 June 1877 d.27 February 1957
CBE(1956) MB BS Lond(1903) MD Lond(1911) DTM&H Cantab(1912) PhD Lond(1926) MRCS LRCP(1901) MRCP(1920) FRCP(1931)

Hugh Stannus, an authority on tropical diseases and nutrition, died at the age of seventy-seven. He was born in London, the only son of Professor Hugh Hutton Stannus, F.R.I.B.A., and was educated privately before entering the Medical School of St. Thomas’s Hospital. After resident posts at St. Thomas’s and the Royal Bethlem Hospital he was resident physician to the Hertford Hospital in Paris during 1903 and 1904, and attended the clinics of Poirier, Babinski and Pierre Marie. From 1905 to 1914 he was medical officer to the King’s African Rifles in Central Africa, and developed the great interest in the ethnology and the endemic diseases of the area which resulted in several valuable contributions to the knowledge of pellagra, trypanosomiasis, piroplasmosis and blackwater fever, and in the publication of his monograph, The Wa-Yao (1922).

On the outbreak of war in 1914 he became principal medical officer to the Nyaso-Rhodesian Forces in German East Africa. Such a background made him well qualified on his return to London in 1919 for the posts of physician to the French Hospital, adviser to the board of the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Endsleigh Gardens, and medical adviser to the Board of Inland Revenue, Somerset House, the Ministry of Pensions and the High Commissioner for Rhodesia. For a time he was examiner in tropical diseases to the University of Liverpool.

During the Second World War he did excellent work with Brunei Hawes and Sydenstricker on the nutritional surveys instituted by the Ministry of Health, and was adviser on tropical diseases to the Ministry of Pensions. In 1933 he became interested in lymphogranuloma inguinale and published A Sixth venereal disease, his most important book.

Stannus’s hobby was his work. He was a president of the section of tropical medicine of the Royal Society of Medicine, a vice-president of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and a fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute, the African Society and the Society of Genealogists. In 1930-31 and again in 1953-4 he was Master of the Worshipful Company of Founders. At the College he gave the Lumleian lectures in 1944. Recognition came in the C.B.E, in 1956, and France made him a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour and of L’Ordre de la Santé Publique and awarded him the Médaille de la Reconnaissance Française.

His practice was meticulous and skilful, his approach to patients the humane one of a common-sense psychologist. His honours left him unassuming and loved by his many friends and colleagues to whom he was a generous host. He did not marry.

Richard R Trail

[Brit.med.J., 1957, 1, 589-90, 651, 720, 887-8; Lancet, 1957, 1, 537 (p); Times, 28 Feb., 6, 13 Mar. 1957.]

(Volume V, page 392)

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