Lives of the fellows

Brian Fitzalan Swynnerton

b.12 July 1918 d.26 July 1990
BM BCh Oxon(1942) MA(1945) MRCP(1947) DM(1951) FRCP(1970)

Brian Swynnerton was born in Gogoyo, Mozambique, Portuguese East Africa. His father was chief game warden and director of tsetse research in Tanganyika, and his mother, Norah Aimee Geraldine Watt Smyth, was the daughter of John Watt Smyth, a judge of the high court in the Punjab, India. Brian was educated at Charterhouse School and before going up to Corpus Christi, Oxford, he spent a year in Africa which gave him a lifelong interest in natural history.

While at Oxford his clinicals were undertaken at the Radcliffe Infirmary, where he developed an interest in gastroenterology which became his chosen specialty. On qualification he held a house post at Salisbury General Infirmary for a brief period before being called up to serve in the RAMC, with the rank of lieutenant. He served witn regiments and hospitals in Algeria, Sicily, Italy, Austria and Greece, was promoted to the rank of captain and demobilized in 1946.

From 1947-51 he held registrarships at the Radcliffe and in 1953 he was appointed consultant physician and research assistant in Norman Tanner’s unit at St James’s Hospital, Balham. At St James’s, Brian was part of a happy team. He was a shy and rather private person but his even temper and quiet humour, together with his gentle manner, endeared him both to colleagues and patients. He excelled at rigid endoscopy and was a skilled interpreter of barium studies. In his earlier years he was active in the local BMA division and later became chairman of the hospital medical staff committee. He was also an examiner for the membership examination of the College.

He never married and lived in Wimbledon with his widowed mother and a devoted family housekeeper for over 30 years. He loved his home, gardening and walking his dogs on Wimbledon Common. He was also active in local community developments. Sadly, he developed symptoms of a fatal oesophageal carcinoma which was not relieved by palliative surgery.

V C Luniewska

[Brit.med.J., 1990,301,1273]

(Volume IX, page 509)

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