Lives of the fellows

Julius Meyer Burnford

b.9 July 1878 d.1 July 1972
MRCS LRCP(1901) MB BS Lond(1903) DPH Camb(1905) MRCP(1907) FRCP(1933)

Julius Burnford was born in Manchester and educated at Owen’s College, where he had a conspicuous career, winning three scholarships. He won Honours in physiology in the London MB examination. In 1906 he was appointed assistant pathologist and curator of the museum at the Westminster Hospital, the beginning of his life-long interest in pathology. He spent most of his life as physician to the West London Hospital and Putney Hospital, and became senior physician at the London Jewish Hospital. He was one of the generation of physicians who based their clinical work on morbid anatomy, and to this he added the laboratory disciplines of haematology and bacteriology. He was a sound, but not inspiring, teacher.

He saw service in the Boer War and was wounded in the foot by a rifle bullet (he said it was because of "the damned fools giving me a white horse to ride"), and won the Boer War Medal with five clasps. He served in the Army as a medical officer again in 1914, in Belgium, and later in Gallipoli, Salonica and Mesopotamia, after which experience he published a paper on the influenza epidemic and pneumonia in Macedonia, in 1919. He had published on infective endocarditis in 1910, and later wrote on encephalitis lethargica in 1921. His main work was on applied pathology in diagnosis and treatment.

Burnford was a kindly and helpful person to those he liked. He used to take three months’ holiday in the summer, and handed over all his beds to his junior, to whom he would always give a bed for an interesting case. He was a firm disciplinarian with himself, and expected a good deal from others, and he could be a little difficult: he was once on a committee which recommended a staff appointment, and then persuaded the Board to turn the man down because, being in New Zealand, he had not called on the members of the staff, as he should have done according to the terms of the advertisement. He would have been equally strict with himself. He was a warm and affectionate human being to his friends. His main recreations were sailing and skiing, and in later years gardening. He was married, and had a daughter and two sons, one of whom became a paediatrician.

CE Newman

[Brit.med.J., 1972, 3, 355]

(Volume VI, page 75)

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