Lives of the fellows

John Francis Harpin (Sir) Broadbent

b.16 October 1865 d.21 January 1946

John Broadbent was the elder son of Sir William Broadbent Bart, F.R.S, F.R.C.P, physician to three generations of the Royal family and to St. Mary’s Hospital, and his wife Eliza, daughter of John Harpin of Holmforth, Yorkshire. He was educated at Rugby and Hertford College, Oxford, and received his medical training at St. Mary’s and in Paris, qualifying in 1891. He held the usual junior appointments in his own Hospital and others at the Hospital for Sick Children and the National Hospital for the Paralysed and Epileptic. He was elected assistant physician to St. Mary’s in 1905, physician in 1913 and consulting physician in 1930. His most valued services, however, were given as dean of the Medical School, a post that he held from 1910 till 1920. This was a period of difficulty for the School; its buildings were derelict and competition for students was keen. He generously refused to accept the salary attached to the office, and he made medical history by the introduction, for the first time in England, of women students on terms of equality with men.

Among other institutions with which Broadbent was associated were the London Fever Hospital, the King Edward VII Sanatorium, Midhurst, and the Hampstead General Hospital. Diseases of the chest and fevers were his principal interests, and he collaborated with his father in writing a book on Heart Disease and Aneurism of the Aorta (1897) which reached a fourth edition in 1906. A certain hesitancy in speech and manner prevented Broadbent from being a popular teacher or a consultant of the first rank. But his wealth of clinical experience and his easy accessibility, together with his North Country honesty and loyalty, were appreciated by those in close contact with him. He was a member both of the Leander Club and of the M.C.C., and he rarely missed seeing an important cricket match. He married in 1895 Margaret Elizabeth, daughter of G. P. Field, an aural surgeon and former dean of St. Mary’s, and had three daughters and a son. He was the brother of Walter Broadbent, F.R.C.P. He died at his home at Wendover, having succeeded to his father’s baronetcy in 1907.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1946; B.M.J., 1946; Times, 29 Jan. 1946; Al.Oxon., i, 163]

(Volume IV, page 458)

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