Lives of the fellows

Edward Farquhar (Sir) Buzzard

b.20 December 1871 d.17 December 1945
BART(1929) KCVO(1927) BM BCh Oxon(1898) MA DM Hon LLD Belf Manitoba FRCP(1906)

Farquhar Buzzard was the son of Thomas Buzzard, F.R.C.P., physician to the National Hospital for the Paralysed and Epileptic, and his wife Isabel, daughter of Joseph Wass. He went to school at Charterhouse and was an undergraduate at Magdalen College, Oxford. Here he gave so much attention to football, for which he was awarded his blue, that he gained only fourth-class honours in the natural science school. At St. Thomas’s Hospital, however, he won several prizes, including the Mead medal, and, after graduating as B.M., B.Ch., in 1898, he obtained junior posts there and at the National Hospital and the Hospital for Sick Children. His first honorary appointments were at the Royal Free Hospital, where he lectured on medical pathology, and the Belgrave Hospital for Children. In 1905 he was elected to the staff of the National Hospital, and, five years later, to the staff of St. Thomas’s. During the War of 1914-1918 he served as consultant to London Command, with the rank of colonel.

Although he was primarily a neurologist, Buzzard excelled as a clinician in every branch of medicine. His work was valued, not so much for any originality of thought, but for the sound judgment and knowledge which he displayed from the first. He published Pathology of the Nervous System (1921), in conjunction with J. G. Greenfield, as well as articles in Allbutt’s System of Medicine and other manuals. His abilities were recognised by his appointment in 1924 as Physician-Extraordinary to King George V which was followed by those of Physician-in-Ordinary in 1932 and of Extra Physician to George VI in 1937. He was created K.C.V.O. in 1927 and a baronet two years later, after the King’s illness.

Buzzard’s career entered a new phase when in 1928 he became Regius professor of medicine at his old University. His tenure of the chair, which lasted till 1943, was a memorable one for Oxford. In 1936 the B.M.A. met at Oxford under his presidency, and in his inaugural address he outlined his ambitions and plans for an ideal medical research school. Lord Nuffield, who was in the audience, immediately offered the financial support necessary for their realisation, and it fell to Buzzard to direct, within the setting of the Radcliffe Infirmary, the establishment of new professorships, a new clinical school, the Institute of Social Medicine and the Nuffield Provincial Hospital Trust. His talent for administration was utilised by the University as a whole, and in 1935 he stood unsuccessfully as Conservative candidate for one of its parliamentary seats. For his great services to medicine at Oxford he was awarded the Osier memorial medal of 1940. The Royal College of Physicians chose him as its Goulstonian Lecturer in 1907 and Harveian Orator in 1941, and, as Senior Censor, he was prominent in the Harvey tercentenary celebrations. He represented the College in the General Medical Council from 1927 to 1929 and Oxford University for many years thereafter. He gave the Lettsomian Lectures at the Medical Society of London in 1926.

As a man, Buzzard was unusually silent, and his ward teaching was reduced to the essentials of diagnosis. This reticence was due to shyness and contrasted with the polished fluency of his prepared public disquisitions. Students found him awe-inspiring and ponderous, since he had none of the arts of the showman. His contemporaries respected him for his gifts of leadership, wisdom, and, even in his old age, courageous vision, in the realms both of medicine and of administration. His exceptional physique and staying power and his prowess at games remained with him throughout life. He married in 1899 May, daughter of Edward Bliss of Edgbaston, and had two sons and three daughters. His second son is E. M. Buzzard, F.R.C.P, and one of his daughters married H. Gardiner-Hill, F.R.C.P. He died at Oxford.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1945; B.M.J., 1945; Times, 19 Dec. 1945; Manchester Guardian, 19 Dec. 1945]

(Volume IV, page 473)

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