Lives of the fellows

Charles Mathurin Vaillant

b.27 November 1906 d.24 August 1993
TD BA Oxon(1927) MRCS LRCP(1932) BM(1934) MRCP(1937) DPM(1949) MA(1949) FRCP(1969)FRCPsych(1971)

Charles Mathurin Vaillant was born in Ashton-in-Makerfield, Lancashire, the son of Harry Dudley Vaillant who was himself a physician. His mother, Louise née Duffy, was the daughter of Thomas Duffy, a marine engineer. He was educated at Hodder Preparatory School, Stoneyhurst College and Trinity College, Oxford, graduating with honours in physiology, and continued his medical studies at Liverpool University and Liverpool Royal Infirmary. Between 1934 and 1939 he held junior medical appointments at Liverpool Royal Infirmary and at the Royal Southern Hospital, where he also worked as clinical assistant in the department of psychiatry. He obtained his membership of the College in 1937.

When the 1939-45 war began, Vaillant was an officer in the Territorial Army (Lancashire Yeomanry) and was immediately called up for active service. He served in France prior to the fall of that country and was later posted to the Sudan, Egypt and India where, with the rank of lieutenant colonel, he commanded general hospitals. For his long and distinguished service in the Territorial Army he was awarded the TD.

On demobilization he decided on a career in psychiatry and took the DPM. He held a number of senior posts, including visiting psychiatrist in charge of the department of psychiatry at Walton Hospital, Liverpool. Beginning with a few inpatient beds, he was able to build up an exclusively psychiatric unit in the medical block, thus laying claim to have been one of the first to have an inpatient unit which was not in a designated mental observation ward or mental hospital.

He was an innovator, as witness his introduction of anaesthesia and relaxant drugs in the administration of ECT long before the local mental hospital followed suit. In 1946 he was appointed consultant in psychiatry to the Ministry of Pensions medical boards and to the Ministry of Pensions Hospital, Mossley Hill, Liverpool; positions which he continued to hold after his retirement in 1971. His particular interest in this context was in the welfare of ex-Japanese prisoners of war. In 1972 he also served on the Parole Board.

He gave a great deal of his time to psychiatric activities outside his practice. He was a lecturer on a sessional basis at Liverpool University where he lectured on the history of psychiatry and on forensic medicine in the DPM course. He also served on the Mental Health review tribunal and on the panel of independent examiners in cases of capital murder.

In 1962 he co-founded the Journal of the Liverpool Psychiatry Club in which, that same year, his presidential address ‘The history of Liverpool psychiatry’ was published. A particular interest was in forensic psychiatry and his opinion on both criminal and civil cases was much sought after. He was a member of the British Academy of Forensic Sciences.

In 1940 he married Verena Patricia Outen, the daughter of George Alfred Outen, a businessman. They had two daughters and a son. Their son, Charles Harry Vaillant continues the family medical tradition and is in general practice in Birkenhead.

H R Rollin

[Brit.med.J., 1994,308,197-8; Liverp.med.Inst., Trans & rep.,1979-80]

(Volume IX, page 538)

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