Lives of the fellows

James Montague Somerville Knott

b.3 June 1918 d.16 December 1999
MRCS LRCP(1942) MB BChir Cantab(1942) MRCP(1947) MD(1956) FRCP(1969)

Note: the first obituary (below) was published in print form in Volume XI; the second was received after publication of the printed edition.

James Montague Somerville Knott was a consultant physician in Portsmouth. He was born in London, the son of James Somerville Knott, a merchant banker, and Dora Lilian née Jaeger, the daughter of a farmer. He was educated at Stowe school and then went on to Cambridge University and St Bartholomew's, qualifying in 1942. He was a house physician at Bart's and then became a captain and then a major in the RAMC, serving in England, Europe and India and taking part in the Normandy landings on D Day.

In 1946 he returned to London, as a registrar on the medical professorial unit at Bart's. From 1954 to 1955 he was a research fellow in Philadelphia and in 1960 held a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford. In 1961 he was appointed as a consultant physician at Portsmouth. He trained successive teams of young doctors.

After his retirement he moved to Blockley in the Cotswolds, where he made many new friends. For many years he was treasurer of the Friends of Sir Michael Sobell House, a palliative care unit. In 1985 he was awarded the president's medal of the National Society for Cancer Relief. He loved music and was an accomplished pianist. He collected Persian rugs, small antique silver pieces, and antique maps. He remained unmarried.

RCP editor

[Brit.med.J., 2000,320,719]

Jimmy Knott was a much-loved consultant physician at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth, with an interest in diabetes. He qualified shortly before the war and was drafted into the RAMC, taking part in the D-Day landings at Normandy. He was subsequently posted to India, and on the cessation of hostilities returned to work at Bart’s in the medical professorial unit. He then moved to the United States for further training, before obtaining the post of consultant physician at Portsmouth.

Jimmy Knott provided diabetic expertise while also coping with a heavy general medical workload. Although he had a military background and was a bachelor, he was always friendly and relaxed, much loved by all he worked with. Jimmy was known for his willingness to listen to anyone, and for his gentle kindness and support, not only of his patients, but of the staff who worked with him. He had an astonishing gift for hearing the news before anyone else, and was somehow always the centre for information exchange in the hospital.

He had many interests. He had a cultural flare. He loved music and was a good pianist. He admired antique silver and maps, and collected Persian rugs. He became a Justice of the Peace and on his ward rounds, after a day in court, he would often discuss the cases that had come before him. Many a junior doctor has learnt what life is really like out there through these tales.

He never married and, during his time at Portsmouth, lived at the Royal Naval Club in old Portsmouth. This resulted in a number of invitations to colleagues to this fine old building, which gradually became more neglected over the years, the carpets becoming more threadbare. Nonetheless, there was a certain ambiance and style about living there, which suited Jimmy admirably.

On retirement he moved to the Cotswolds, moving to Blockley, where he developed many new friends and became actively involved in the palliative care unit, being treasurer of the Friends of Sir Michael Sobell House. In 1985 he was awarded the president’s medal of the National Society for Cancer Relief (now the Macmillan Fund).

D Colin-Jones

(Volume XI, page web)

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