Lives of the fellows

Robert Cecil Priest

b.1882 d.22 February 1966
BA Cantab(1904) MA MB BChir(1908) MRCP(1922) DTM&H Lond(1929) MD(1933) FRCP(1936)

Priest was born in Harbome, Warwick, his father being Thomas Priest of that town. He was educated at King Edward’s School, Birmingham, whence he went to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. There he gained a First (and was prizeman) in the Natural Sciences Tripos in 1904. His clinical studies were conducted in St. Thomas’s Hospital, and he graduated in medicine in 1908. He was commissioned into the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1909, and spent the rest of his working life in that service.

In World War I he saw active service in Mesopotamia, and in the inter-war years alternated between London and Egypt. He specialized in medicine, particularly in diseases common in the Tropics, and acquired various higher qualifications. He was awarded the Leishman Memorial Medal in 1930, and was given advanced promotion to Brevet Lieut. Colonel in that same year, and to Brevet Colonel in 1934, when he was also created Honorary Physician to the King, a distinction which he retained until retirement. During 1936-1937 he was Consulting Physician to the British Army in Egypt, and on returning home became, with the rank of Major-General, Consulting Physician to the Army as a whole. In this capacity he went with the British Expeditionary Force to France in 1939, and on return to the United Kingdom became Inspector of Medical Services until he reached retiring age in 1941. This, however was not the end of his service with the Armed Forces. Until 1946 he acted as Consulting Physician to the Western Command, and thereafter he became House Governor of the King Edward VII Convalescent Home for Officers, Osborne, Isle of Wight, a post he filled with distinction until 1952.

Priest combined a high standard of medical knowledge and expertise with an unassuming and friendly personality which endeared him to patients and colleagues alike. He was ever ready to help those who came to him for advice, and was shrewd in his recommendations. His crowning achievement was perhaps his success as Governor of the Officers’ Convalescent Home, which he developed as a Rehabilitation Centre where all forms of remedial treatment were available. The convalescent officer is not always the easiest person to deal with, but praise for Priest’s tactful and efficient administration was universal.

Priest published a number of papers on subjects of topical interest in different medical journals; one, published in 1926, drawing attention to the occurrence of infection with Cysticercus cellulosae, a condition which at that time had received scant recognition.

He married Emelia Pauline, second daughter of R. Addison-Newman of Hove. They had one son and one daughter.

Sir John Boyd

[Brit.med.J., 1966, 1, 680, 868; Lancet, 1966, 1, 554; Times, 23 Feb 1966]

(Volume VI, page 383)

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