Lives of the fellows

Roy Mackenzie Stewart

b.29 March 1889 d.31 May 1964
MB ChB Edin(1911) DPM Manch(1914) MD Edin(1920) MRCPE(1920) FRCPE(1929) MRCP(1936) FRCP(1942)

Roy Stewart, who was born at Southsea, Hampshire, came of a distinguished family. His grandfather, the Rev. James Stewart, was a Gaelic scholar; his father was Surgeon Rear-Admiral William Henry Stewart, M.D., deputy inspector general of the Royal Naval Medical Service, and his mother Sarah Elizabeth, the daughter of the Rev. James Thomson, M.A., of Aberdeenshire. From Lord Williams’s Grammar School at Thame he entered Edinburgh University Medical School to graduate with distinction, and shortly afterwards joined the staff of the Lancashire County Asylum at Prestwich.

In May 1915 he joined the R.A.M.C., serving in France where he developed a permanent tinnitus from the explosion of a heavy gun, then as a neurologist at Maghull and from 1917 to 1918 in Salonika, and finally from May to November 1919 at Netley. From 1920 when he became deputy medical superintendent of the Lancashire County Asylum at Whittingham, Stewart showed his qualities as an administrator. Between 1922 and 1930 he replanned the Leavesden Hospital so that two new isolation blocks and two new tuberculosis blocks were linked by an under-road tunnel with a 600 bedded children’s home, and provided with an up-to-date pathological laboratory. That his appointment as the first senior medical superintendent of the London County Council Mental Hospital Services was fully justified was shown in his ability to control the Hospital when in the Second World War its bed-complement was increased to close on 4,000.

In addition Stewart maintained the interest in pathology that began with his work in the Asylum at Whittingham in 1920. Leavesden, which admitted adults with the lowest grade mental sub-normality, provided ample material for his researches into the histo-pathology of carbon-monoxide poisoning that led to what was to be known as the ‘Stewart-Morel syndrome' (J. Neurol. Psychopath., 1928, 8, 321-31). By the time of his retirement he was amply qualified to give six years’ service as consultant psychiatrist to H.M. prisons and borstals in Scotland.

He was a big, gentle man, deeply religious, sensitive, rather taciturn, and sometimes ironic, and was a thorough, though slow clinician. A practical man, he repaired his cars and built dinghies a swimming pool for his children; his most noteworthy hobbies were chess and philately. His deep knowledge of mental disease was recognised in his examinership to the General Nursing Council, his appointment as Morison lecturer to the Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh, in 1947, his presidency of the section of neurology of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1942, and his chairmanship of the deficiency section of the Royal Medico-Psychological Association from 1943 to 1947.

In 1923 he married Agnes Maud, daughter of Commander Thomas Willing Stirling, O.B.E., R.N. They had two daughters and two sons.

Richard R Trail

[Brit.med.J., 1964, 1, 1573; Lancet, 1964, 1, 1335-6.]

(Volume V, page 397)

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