Lives of the fellows

Samuel Squire (Sir) Sprigge

b.22 June 1860 d.17 June 1937
Kt(1921) MB BCh Cantab(1887) MA Cantab(1904) MD Cantab(1904) FRCS(1921) *FRCP(1927) FACS(1928)

Samuel Sprigge, who was editor of The Lancet for twenty-eight years, was born at Watton, Norfolk, the son of Dr Squire Sprigge, a general practitioner and small landowner, and his wife, the daughter of John Jackson, a solicitor, of Dutton Hill, Braintree and Bury St. Edmunds. He was educated at Uppingham, Caius College, Cambridge, and St. George’s Hospital, qualified in 1886, and held house posts at the West London and Brompton Hospitals. Sprigge had no real interest in clinical medicine; his bent was towards writing. Even as a student he had begun to write, and while in his house posts did some medical reviewing and contributed short stories to lay papers. The complete break came with his double appointment as secretary to Sir Russell Reynolds and to the Society of Authors, where he collaborated with Sir Walter Besant in pamphlets on publishing. Although he maintained a lively interest in the Society his formal connection with it was severed in 1893 when he accepted the offer of T. H. Wakley to join the staff of The Lancet. In 1909 he became editor, contributing many anonymous articles. His work for the journal was of the highest standard. He knew all the rules, but obeyed only those which appealed to him. As T. F. Fox wrote of him, ‘he was no enthusiast for policies, but his opportunism was that of a philosopher and his compromises those of a diplomat’.

In 1921 he was knighted and elected F.R.C.S., and in 1928 he delivered the Hunterian lecture to the American College of Surgeons and was granted the fellowship of that College. He was twice married; in 1895 to Beatrice, daughter of Sir Charles Moss, Chief Justice of Ontario; in 1905 to Ethel, daughter of Major Charles Jones. Of the first marriage the son, Cecil, became financial editor of the Manchester Guardian, and the (daughter, Elizabeth Sprigge, a novelist. There was one daughter of the second marriage.

Richard R Trail

* He was elected under the special bye-law which provides for the election to the fellowship of "Persons holding a medical qualification, but not Members of the College, who have distinguished themselves in the practice of medicine, or in the pursuit of Medical or General Science or Literature..."

[, 1937, 1, 1346-8 (p); Lancet, 1937, 1, 1550-58 (p); 1937, 2, 39-40; St Bart’s Hosp.J., 1936-7, 44, 184; D.N.B. 1931-1940, 829-30; Lives R.C.S., 734-6.]

(Volume V, page 390)

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