Lives of the fellows

John Sebastian Bach (Sir) Baron Stopford

b.25 June 1888 d.6 March 1961
MBE(1920) Kt(1941) KBE(1955) Baron(1958) MB ChB Manch(1911) MD Manch(1915) Hon ScD Dubl(1937) Hon DSc Leeds(1939) Hon ScD Cantab(1951) Hon LLD Manch(1951) Hon LLD Liverp(1953) Hon DCL Durh(1957) FRS(1927) *FRCP(1942) Hon FRCS(1955)

John Stopford was the son of Thomas Rinck Stopford, a coalmining engineer, and Mary Tryer, daughter of James Johnson, coal merchant. He was educated at the Grammar School and University of Manchester, and in the year of his graduation won both the Dumville surgical prize and the Bradley memorial surgical scholarship. Two years later he held the Tom Jones scholarship in surgery.

Following resident posts at Rochdale and Manchester Royal Infirmaries he was appointed to the anatomy department of Manchester University as a demonstrator in 1912; from 1915 to 1919 he was lecturer, and from 1919 to 1937 professor. From the time he was elected to the chair at the age of thirty he took on a succession of appointments and memberships of committees that show he was a man of extraordinary gifts and outstanding personality. The list is long; selection will show their wide range and responsibilities He was dean of the Medical School, 1923-7, and again, 1931-3, professor of experimental neurology, 1937-56, pro-vice-chancellor of Manchester University, 1928-30, and vice-chancellor, 1934-56, chairman of the Universities Bureau of the British Empire, 1939-43, and at the same time chairman of business of the General Medical Council, of which he had been a member since 1927.

He did valuable work for the Nuffield Foundation, its Rheumatism Committee, the John Rylands Library and the Manchester, Salford and Stretford Joint Hospitals Advisory Board. Little wonder he was made an honorary Freeman of Manchester in 1956, a year after his appointment as a K.B.E., and that he was honoured by the Universities of Cambridge, Dublin, Durham and Liverpool.

Stopford’s prime interest was neurological anatomy. During World War I he carried out important clinical researches into the effects of gun-shot wounds on peripheral nerves at the Ministry of Pensions Hospital, Grangethorpe, publishing a series of papers of the first importance, some of them in collaboration with Sir Harry Platt.

He was examiner in anatomy to the Universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Leeds, Wales, and to Trinity College, Dublin. Evidently he had never forgotten his early association with his gifted chief, Sir Grafton Elliot Smith, for he was a brilliant teacher who made anatomy a living subject, and was held in the deepest affection by every student and member of his staff. Moreover he was a pioneer in his work on the blood supply of the brain stem and on the structure and functions of parts of the autonomic nervous system, as well as in the reforms on medical education recommended while he was vice-chairman of the Goodenough Committee.

Despite all his extraordinary gifts the only thing of which Stopford was proud was that he was a Lancashire man; he showed no pretension and no pomposity, even when made a life Peer in 1958. His recreations were gardening, walking, and especially watching football, at which he had been so good in his youth that an attempt was made to make him a professional.

In 1916 he married Lilly Allan, M.B., Ch.B., daughter of John Allan, an optician, of Blackburn. They had one son.

Richard R Trail

* He was elected under the special bye-law which provides for the election to the fellowship of "Persons holding a medical qualification, but not Members of the College, who have distinguished themselves in the practice of medicine, or in the pursuit of Medical or General Science or Literature..."

[Biogr. Mem. toy. Soc., 1961, 7, 271-9 (p), bibl.; Brit.med.J., 1961, 1, 831-2 (p); Guardian, 7 Mar. 1961 (p); J. Anat., 1961, 95, 437-40 (p); Lancet, 1961, 1, 622-3 (p); Nature (Lond.), 1961, 190, 391; Times, 7 Mar. 1961 (p).]

(Volume V, page 400)

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