Lives of the fellows

William Stuart Tegner

b.6 July 1906 d.16 November 1971
BA Oxon(1929) MA(1932) BM BCh(1932) MRCP(1935) FRCP(1951)

William Stuart Tegner was born in Yokohama, Japan. His father was Danish - Frederick May Tegner - a silk merchant of Copenhagen and Yokohama. His paternal grandfather, Johann Henry Tegner, was also a silk merchant and came from a family who had settled in Helsingors, Denmark, for many years, having originally come from Southern Sweden; he fought in the Holstein War against Prussia and had also spent some time in Japan. His uncle was Rudolf Tegner, the sculptor, whose works are to be found throughout Denmark today. His mother was Beatrix Eldridge, an American, the daughter of Stuart Eldridge, MD, who was born on the 2nd January, 1843 in Philadelphia, and fought in the American Civil War, reaching the rank of major after ‘gallant and meritorious service’; after demobilisation he had qualified as a doctor and then moved to Japan, settling in Yokohama as a physician and surgeon where he practised until his death in 1901.

The family moved to England in 1914 when WST was 8 years old. He entered Winchester College as a scholar and subsequently New College, Oxford, where he took a second class honours degree in physiology in 1929. In that year he entered the London Hospital as a clinical student. He proceeded MA in 1932, in which year he also qualified BM, BCh. After his house appointments he became the first registrar to the Department of Physical Medicine at the London Hospital in 1935 under Sir Robert Stanton Woods. At the same time he worked as a part-time demonstrator of Anatomy and later as supervisor of Minor Surgery. He obtained the MRCP (London) in the same year. On his initiative his Department was allocated six beds in the Hospital, these being provided for the ‘investigation and treatment of the rheumatic diseases’. This was a pioneering effort and a far-sighted achievement. At about the same time the London Hospital School of Physiotherapy was formed, and he took a close personal interest in this, being for many years a regular examiner for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. In 1938 he was awarded a travelling fellowship which enabled him to visit the USA and in 1939 he was elected assistant physician to the Department of Physical Medicine at the London Hospital.

At the outbreak of World War II he joined the Emergency Medical Service and was posted as general physician to King George’s Hospital, Ilford. In 1940 he joined the RAMC and was rapidly promoted to Major, and posted as Command Specialist in Physical Medicine in 1941. From 1943-1945 he was Lt. Col., Assistant Director of Biological Research at the War Office. On demobilisation in 1945 he became Physician in Charge of the Department of Physical Medicine at the London Hospital, a post he held for 23 years until his retirement in 1968. He also joined the staff of the Red Cross Clinic for Rheumatism at Peto Place (later to become the Arthur Stanley Institute of the Middlesex Hospital when the NHS was instituted), and when this was fully incorporated into the Middlesex Hospital in 1965 he became a full member of the staff of that Hospital. He was elected FRCP in 1951.

Tegner served as Chairman of the North East Metropolitan Regional Board Advisory Committee in Physical Medicine for many years, and was Honorary Secretary of the International League against Rheumatism. He was also Honorary Medical Secretary of the Heberden Society, and in 1962 he gave the Heberden Round at the London Hospital. He was President of the Section of Physical Medicine of the Royal Society of Medicine, and in 1954 was elected the Samuel Hyde Memorial Lecturer. From 1961 to the time of his death he was medical director of the Papworth Village Settlement. His contributions to literature included a chapter on Psychogenic Rheumatism in Copeman’s Textbook of Rheumatic Diseases (E. and S. Livingstone, 1948), the use of gold salts in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (Lancet 1937), familial aggregation of ankylosing spondylitis (Lancet 1949) and iritis as a presenting symptom of ankylosing spondylitis (jointly) (Lancet 1951).

He married, first, in 1944 Mary, daughter of Sir Bertram Foster Roberts, mill owner of Basildon, Yorkshire, by whom he had two sons, William and Henry. The latter qualified as a doctor, having been a student at the London Hospital, and entered the RAF Medical Branch; and secondly, Katherine Elizabeth Wilson (née Arthur) of Melbourne, Australia, who died in 1967.

He was a man of few words but great integrity and much kindness. He died at Cretingham, near Framlingham, Suffolk.

RM Marquis

[Brit.med.J., 1971, 4, 628; Lancet, 1971, 2, 1212; Rheumatology and Physical Medicine, 1972, XI, 205-208]

(Volume VI, page 433)

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