Lives of the fellows

James Aubrey Torrens

b.4 September 1881 d.23 August 1954
MB BS Lond(1907) MD Lond(1920) MRCS LRCP(1905) MRCP(1909) FRCP(1921)

James Torrens was the son of Henry C. Torrens, who as ‘Dana’ was the business manager to Sir Beerbohm Tree, and grandson of Henry McCullagh Torrens, who was secretary to and biographer of Lord Melbourne before becoming Member of Parliament for Fulham. His mother’s maiden name was Riley; she was the daughter of a solicitor. With a succession of scholarships he was educated at St. Paul’s School and St. George’s Hospital, where he gained the general proficiency prize in 1902 and the Brodie surgical prize in 1904, and was later house physician, house surgeon, medical registrar and curator of the museum. Following posts as pathologist to the Margaret Street Hospital, bacteriologist to the Hampstead General Hospital, and physician to the Paddington Green Children’s Hospital, he was appointed to St. George’s as assistant physician in 1913.

Torrens joined the R.A.M.C, in August 1914 and served in France and Mesopotamia. On his return in 1919 he resumed his appointment at St. George’s where he became full physician in 1923. He was also consultant to both the Chelsea Hospital for Women and the Harrow Hospital. During the Second World War he worked at the West Middlesex Hospital and remained there until his retirement in 1949. He wrote numerous articles to journals on a wide variety of subjects, for he was a clinician of a high standard, in demand as an examiner for the Conjoint Board, the Society of Apothecaries, Oxofrd University and the College.

He was a good teacher who condemned slackness in his students, but unfortunately liable to changes in mood, at one time bright and amusing, at another cynical and sarcastic, although his friends knew that fundamentally he was full of the milk of human kindness. A spare and wiry man, abstemious in food and drink, Torrens had been a keen athlete; he had rowed for his school and was a very good three-quarter in the St. George’s Hospital Rugby team from 1900 to 1903. All his life he was passionately fond of horses and dogs, and was a very good bridge player.

He was married twice; first in 1910 to Hilda Martin, the daughter of a parson, and later, some time after her death in 1944, to Miss Edith Chapman who survived him. There was one daughter of the first marriage.

Richard R Trail

[Brit.med.J., 1954, 2, 599-600; Lancet, 1954, 2, 502; Times, 26, 27 Aug. 1954.]

(Volume V, page 419)

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