Lives of the fellows

Joseph Coy Le Fleming Burrow

b.3 February 1888 d.20 January 1967
MB ChB Edin(1910) MRCP(1913) MD(1933) FRCP(1933)

Joseph Coy Le Fleming Burrow was born at Bowness, Windermere, the son of Robert Fleming Burrow, a landowner and gentleman -farmer, and Sarah Jane Mackereth. He graduated MB from the University of Edinburgh in 1910, and after holding house appointments at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh he moved to Leeds, where he was medical registrar at the General Infirmary and tutor in clinical medicine. During the 1914-18 war he served in the RAMC at the 2nd Northern General Hospital at Beckett’s Park, and in Egypt. In 1919 he was appointed assistant physician to the General Infirmary at Leeds and was also on the staff of the Leeds public dispensary. In 1929 he was appointed professor of pharmacology and therapeutics in Leeds University, and from 1936-49 held the Chair of Clinical Medicine. During the 1939-45 war he was consultant physician to the Ministry of Health and adviser in neurology, Yorkshire Region. As consultant physician he made an outstanding contribution to the work of the Seaforth EMS Hospital where most of the patients were military casualties.

He viewed the advent of the National Health Service with profound concern as he feared the possibility of grave curtailment of clinical freedom. In consequence he resigned from his university and hospital appointments in 1948, a mistake which, with hindsight, he regretted bitterly, and it was not long before he was chafing at the inactivity. After helping out the Leeds Regional Board in many areas for several years, at the age of 67 he took up an appointment as medical director of the Princess Tsehai Memorial Hospital, Addis Ababa, in 1955, where he served for several years. On his return to England he remained very active in his profession until ill health forced him to retire.

He was a colourful character, always immaculately dressed, and with great charm. His ward teachings rarely started on time but were always worth waiting for. He had a racy form of teaching, illustrating points by referring to topical situations. But he always stressed the importance of careful clinical examination and observation, and he scorned the excessive use of the laboratory test or the unnecessary X-ray examination. Some people would say that he was flamboyant in manner but he was a very kind person and sympathetic to students. His general bearing and manner made them feel that medicine really was something worthwhile. He was a somewhat lonely figure and did not make many friends among the staff, but this was probably due to the demands of a very large practice and his wish to spend the majority of his free time with his family.

He was one of the early owners of a Bentley which he drove with great panache. He hunted with the Bramham Moor and was very fond of riding. A very shrewd judge of men, although taking no part in the general politics of either the University or the Hospital, his judgement when asked was usually a very discerning one.

Sir Gordon Wolstenholme
V Luniewska

[Lancet, 1967, 1, 288]

(Volume VI, page 76)

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