Archive for the ‘Obituaries’ Category

Samuel Frederick Langham was the Coroner for the City of London who heard the inquest into the death of Catherine Eddowes, murdered by Jack The Ripper, on September 30, 1888. I found a couple of genealogical websites which contain some information about his life and family.
31 Elizabeth Langham’s father was J G Langham, a noted solicitor in Hastings, who shared the same birthplace – Holborn – as another solicitor of the period, Samuel F Langham (Holborn was home to the legal firm Langham Solicitors at 10 Bartlett’s Buildings). In his turn, S.F. Langham was the father of Samuel Frederick Langham, the famous City of London coroner (tenure of the City office was 1884-1901 although Langham was active as a deputy coroner since 1849 and an officer of The Coroner’s Society since at least 1851; he is the subject of Parts IV and V of our series). Coroner Langham was a contemporary of West Middlesex coroner Dr. Thomas Bramah Diplock (tenure of office 1868-1892). Since both coroners worked in London, there can be little doubt that they knew one another professionally, if not through this Diplock-Langham union in Hastings.
Source: "Jerianne’s Rib" Blog by David O’Flaherty, writer, researcher, blogger at
Here is another website with some information on the Langham family, including Samuel Frederick:
Source: "Square toes and formal: Sketches of some of the people and places who have been associated with Young, Coles & Langdon over the past 180 years", by Christopher Langdon, Chapter 7, page 22

Dr. John Rees Gabe

Posted: November 20, 2008 in Obituaries
Dr. John Rees Gabe, gynecologist and paediatrician, was one of the six surgeons who attended the crime scene and post-mortem examination of Mary Jane Kelly, the last victim of Jack The Ripper. Gabe died on March 2, 1920.
Pursuant to the Law of Property Amendment Act, 1859.
NOTICE is hereby given, that all creditors and other persons having any claims or demands against the estate of John Rees Gabe, late of 4, formerly 3, Mecklenburgh-square, London, W.C., Physician and Surgeon, deceased, (who died on the 2nd day of March, 1920, and whose will was proved in the Principal Registry of the Probate Division of His Majesty’s High Court of Justice, on the 7th day of July, 1920, by Ivor Stanley Gabe and Winifred Agnes Gabe, the executors therein named), are hereby required to send the particulars, in writing, of their claims or demands to me, the undersigned, as Solicitor for the said executors, on or before the 27th day of August, 1920, after which date the said executors will proceed to distribute the assets of the said deceased amongst the persons entitled thereto, having regard only to the debts, claims and demands of which he shall then have had notice; and he will not be liable for the assets of the said deceased, or any part thereof, so distributed, to any person or persons of whose claims or demands he shall not then have had notice. – Dated this 27th day of July, 1920.
JOHN J. McINTYRE, 401/3, Birkbeck-chambers, Holborn, W.C.I, Solicitor for the said Executors.
Source: The London Gazette, July 30, 1920, page 8019

Obituary Of Dr. Alexander Mackellar

Posted: November 15, 2008 in Obituaries
Dr. Alexander Mackellar attended the post-mortem examination of Alice McKenzie, murdered on July 17, 1889. Not all experts believe that McKenzie was murdered by Jack the Ripper, but her injuries did show some level of anatomical knowledge, and were similar in nature to the rest of the Ripper’s victims.
Late Surgeon to St. Thomas’s Hospital and Chief Surgeon to the Metropolitan Police.
ALEXANDER OBERLIN MACKELLAR was born on December 29th, 1845, at Berbice, New Amsterdam, British Guiana. He was a posthumous child; his father who was a missionary having died of yellow fever six months before his birth. At the age of six months, he was brought to England, and lived with an uncle who looked after his early training until the age of ten. He was educated at Silcott’s Grammar School and Owen’s College, Manchester. His medical school was at Owen’s College and the Royal Infirmary, Manchester; but he also studied at Queen’s College, Belfast; University College, London; Paris; and Vienna. He took the diplomas of L.S.A. and M.R.C.S. Eng in 1867, and graduated as M.D. and M.Ch., Royal University of Ireland in 1869.
After some time spent in travel he served in 1868-9 as medical officer in charge of military and naval invalids from China, East Indies, Mauritius, and the Cape. He served as ambulance surgeon in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1. It was there he met the late Sir William MacCormac, and formed a friendship which had a very important bearing on his future career. He was present at Metz, Sedan, Coulmier, Orleans, etc. At the close of the war he was selected by Surgeon-General Langenbeck to accompany him on his tour of official inspection of the military hospitals throughout Germany and the parts of France occupied by the German troops. For the important services he rendered he was made a Knight of the Military Order of Merit of Bavaria.
In February 1872, he was appointed Senior Resident Medical Officer to the Royal Free Hospital. In 1873, having taken the Fellowship of the College of Surgeons of England, he was elected Resident Assistant Surgeon at St. Thomas’s Hospital, which post he held until February, 1876, when he was elected Assistant Surgeon. He acted as Surgeon-in-Chief of the English Ambulance during the Turco-Servian War of 1876, being present at nearly all the important general actions of that campaign. For this service he was made a Knight of the Gold Cross of Takovo. In the next year he had further opportunities of adding to his already extensive experience of military surgery, for he acted as consulting surgeon to the 5th ambulance of the Red Crescent, operating in Plevna and on Plevna lines. He was made a Knight of the Order of Medjidieh in connexion with this war. His courage and intrepidity in attending to the wounded excited the admiration of all those who worked along with him. The late Mr. Archibald Forbes graphically describes his fearlessness. One day a fragment of a shell came through the roof of the room and narrowly missed him as he was operating. He turned round, and saying that was a close shave, went steadily on with his operation as if nothing had happened.
Mackellar’s promotion at St. Thomas’s was exceptionally rapid. At the age of 41 he became full Surgeon, and when 48 he was Senior Surgeon on the staff. He held the post of Lecturer on Practical Surgery and Teacher of Operative Surgery for twenty-two years, and for many years was Lecturer on Forensic Medicine. He was an excellent teacher and a skilful operator. He was Examiner in Surgery and Clinical Surgery in the University of Glasgow. In 1885 he succeeded Mr. Timothy Holmes as Surgeon-in-Chief to the Metropolitan Police, which appointment he continued to hold at the time of his death. He threw himself heart and soul into the work of this post. The esteem in which he was held at Scotland Yard is shown by the following memorandum which the Chief Commissioner has issued concerning his death:
The committee desires to place on record his sense of the great loss which the Metropolitan Police has sustained by the death of their Chief Surgeon.
Mr. A.O. Mackellar joined the service nearly twenty years ago with the reputation of being a most skilful surgeon, and with much war service in charge of ambulance hospitals in the Franco-Prussian, Turco-Servian, and Russo-Turkish wars, and the value of the work he did was recognized by the decorations bestowed by the German, Turkish, and Servian Governments.
The experience he had gained by his connexion of twenty years with the Metropolitan Police rendered him invaluable as an adviser to the Commissioner on medical questions affecting the force.
                                                                                                  (Signed)    E.R. Henry
Mr. Mackellar had a very severe attack of acute pneumonia in the winter of 1895, and since that time he never enjoyed robust health. Last year he gave up his house in London and retired to Pinner, where he died after a short illness on June 15th at the comparatively early age of 58. He will be missed by a large circle of friends, who will remember him as a kind warm-hearted man and genial companion. He leaves a widow to deplore his loss.
Source: The British Medical Journal, July 9, 1904, page 100-1

Biography Of Mr. John Troutbeck

Posted: November 14, 2008 in Obituaries
Mr. John Troutbeck was the Coroner who held the inquest on the remains which were discovered in a vault at the new police offices being erected on the Victoria Embankment, on Tuesday October 2, 1888. This case was termed The Whitehall Mystery, and was more likely linked to the Thames Torso Murders, than the Jack the Ripper case. Below, is a link to an article, featured in the BMJ (British Medical Journal), entitled, "Mr. Troutbeck as the Surgeon’s Friend: The Coroner and the Doctors – An Edwardian Comedy."
Source: The British Medical Journal, July, 1995, pages 259-287
It would appear that John Troutbeck, Coroner, who held the inquest into the murder of a woman whose remains were discovered in a vault of the new police office on the Thames Embankment, near Whitehall, died intestate on February 29, 1912. Read below:
Pursuant to the Law of Property Amendment Act, 1859.
NOTICE is hereby given, that all creditors and other persons having any claims or demands against the estate of John Troutbeck, late of 6A, Dean’s-yard, and 21, Great Smith-street, in the city of Westminster (who died on the 29th day of February, 1912, intestate, and letters of administration of whose estate were granted by the Principal Probate Registry of His Majesty’s High Court of Justice, on the 3rd day of August, 1912, to Harriet Elizabeth Troutbeck, of 6A, Dean’s-yard, Westminster, are hereby required to send the particulars of their claims and demands to us, the undersigned, Solicitors for the said adminstratrix, on or before the 30th day of September, 1912, after which date the said administratrix will proceed to distribute the assets of the said deceased amongst the persons entitled thereto, having regard only to the claims and demands of which she shall then have had notice; and she will not be liable for the assets of the said deceased, or any part thereof, so distributed, to any person or persons of whose claims or demands she shall not then have had notice. – Dated this 14th day of August, 1912.
         TAYLOR and EMMET, Solicitors for the Administratrix, Norfolk-row, Sheffield.
Source: The London Gazette, August 16, 1912, page 6142

Obituary Of Dr. Roderick Macdonald

Posted: November 13, 2008 in Obituaries
Dr. Roderick Macdonald, Coroner for the North-East Middlesex District, headed the inquest on the death of Mary Jane Kelly, murdered by Jack The Ripper, on November 9, 1888.
Dr. RODERICK MACDONALD, coroner for North-East London, and late M.P. for Ross-shire, who died recently at his residence in Camden Road, was the son of a crofter, of Skye, where he was born. He became a tutor, and subsequently studied for the medical profession at Edinburgh, where he took the M.D. degree in 1883. He came to London and practiced in the East End, and was divisional surgeon of the police in the Isle of Dogs. When the East Middlesex district was divided, about seven years ago, he was elected to the coronership for the north-east portion.
Source: The British Medical Journal, March 24, 1894, page 664

Obituary Of Dr. George Ernest Haslip

Posted: November 13, 2008 in Obituaries
Dr. George Ernest Haslip, house-surgeon at the London Hospital, examined Emma Smith, who was viciously assaulted by a group of men as she was passing near Whitechapel Church on the morning of April 3, 1888. Haslip stated at Smith’s inquest that a blunt object had been violently forced into her vagina, tearing the perineum, and causing peritonitis, which led to Smith’s death, in the hospital, the day after her attack.
Late Treasurer of the British Medical Association.
We had the sad duty last week of announcing the death of Dr. G.E. Haslip, which occured on November 12th, at his house in London, after a long and painful illness, borne with great fortitude. It had been known to his friends for many months past that he was seriously ill and had undergone two severe operations. In July last his failing health compelled him to resign the post of Treasurer of the British Medical Association, which he had held with great ability and devotion for eight years.
George Ernest Haslip was born on August 7th, 1864, at Gravesend. He was the last surviving child of James Haslip. From Gravesend Proprietary School he went to the London Hospital, and obtained the M.R.C.S. Eng. and the L.R.C.P. Lond. diplomas in 1887. After holding the posts of house-surgeon and clinical assistant in the medical out-patient department at the London Hospital, he obtained the M.D. Brux. degree in 1889, and the D.P.H. of the English Conjoint Board in 1891. In the following year he began general practice in Suffolk Place, Pall Mall, and continued to work there until 1913, when he moved to St. James’s Square. For more than thirty years he was medical officer to the Corps of Commissionaires, and in carrying out the duties of that appointment he never spared himself. He was most regular in his attendance at the corps headquarters in the Strand, and, in fact, seemed to regard that as the first duty in his busy day; when necessary he was assiduous in visiting the men in their homes. During those years Dr. Haslip built up a large private practice. He acted as medical advisor to several large insurance companies, and was physician to a number of the largest West End hotels.
Dr. Haslip was elected Treasurer of the British Medical Association in 1916. He had been President of the Metropolitan Counties Branch in 1913 and Vice-President of the Section of Medical Sociology in the same year; but he was not at that time at all widely known to members of the Association. He had, however, been Chairman of the Medical Insurance Agency since 1909, and in that office had shown his capacity as a financier. No one knew better than he that in becoming Treasurer of the Association at the beginning of the third year of the war he was undertaking an onerous task. The general financial position of the country, was, of course, far from satisfactory, and the British Medical Association was suffering like other undertakings which had a commercial side. He gave much time and thought to the questions which came before him, and was in very frequent consultation with the then Financial Secretary, Mr. Guy Elliston. The unexpected death of Mr. Elliston in April, 1918, very greatly increased Dr. Haslip’s responsibilites and anxieties; he did not shrink from giving his time very freely, and visited the office practically every day for many months preceding and following the armistice. Through all this trying time he never lost his contagious courage and high spirits, and came to be regarded with the greatest admiration and affection by all with whom he worked in the Central Office. It was a very great grief to them to notice the slow failure of his health, which began about eighteen months ago. The Association was never more fortunate in the choice of an officer than in getting Dr. Haslip for its Treasurer in 1916.
Dr. Haslip was one of the original members of the Consultative Council on Medical and Allied Services appointed in October, 1919, by the first Minister of Health, Dr. Addison, to advise the Ministry on such problems as the national development and extension of medical, nursing, and midwifery work. In the following year he was President of the Section of Medical Sociology at the Cambridge Annual Meeting of the British Medical Association, and introduced, with characteristic vigour and directness, the discussion on the future of medical practice, which was reported in full in our issue of July 10th, 1920. It was at that Annual Meeting, the first held since the war, that the President, Sir Clifford Allbutt, was presented with his portrait, by Sir William Orpen, which now hangs in the Fitzwilliam Museum; the proposal to open a fund for the portrait originated with Dr. Haslip, and his was the driving force behind all the arrangements.
Dr. Haslip had travelled much on the Continent and gained considerable first-hand knowledge of foreign spas and the methods of treatment carried out at each. He was a regular attendant at the Section of Balneology and Climatology of the Royal Society of Medicine, and for some years served on the council of the Section.
The first part of the funeral service was held at St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, on Friday, November 14th. A very large gathering of friends nearly filled the church. The coffin was guarded by an escort from the Corps of Commissionaires. The British Medical Association was represented by the Chairman of the Representative Body, Dr. H.B. Brackenbury; the Chairman of Council, Dr. R.A. Bolam; the Treasurer, Mr. N. Bishop Harman, and the Deputy Chairman of the Representative Body, Dr. C.O. Hawthorne. Past and present members of Council included Lord Dawson, Sir Jenner Verrall, Dr. Charles Buttar (President of the Metropolitan Counties Branch), Dr. S. Morton Mackenzie, Mr. H.S. Souttar, Dr. F.W. Goodbody, Dr. Christine Murrell, and Dr. W. Johnson Smyth. Among the officers of Branches and members of the Representative Body were Dr. Comyns Berkeley (Treasurer, Metropolitan Counties Branch) and the Rev. S.D. Bhabha, M.D. (Greenwich and Deptford Division). The head office of the Association was represented by Dr. Alfred Cox (Medical Secretary), Mr. L. Ferris-Scott (Financial Secretary and Business Manager), Dr. N.G. Horner (Assistant Editor of the British Medical Journal), Dr. G.C. Anderson (Deputy Medical Secretary), Dr. C. Courtenay Lord (Assistant Medical Secretary), together with many members of the headquarters’ clerical staff. Wreaths were sent by the Council members and staff, and by the Finance Department. The second part of the service was at Walton-on-the-Hill Church, Surrey, not far from "Amberdene," the country house where some of our friend’s happiest days were spent.
Dr. Haslip married Anna, daughter of Maurice de Leinkauf, of Vienna, a privy councillor to the late Imperial Austrian Government and President of the Agricultural and Shipping Exchange. She, with two daughters, survives him.
Sir CLIFFORD ALLBUTT, who was President of the Association during the first five years of Dr. Haslip’s tenure of the Office of Treasurer, writes:
It was with something of a shock that I heard of the death of my dear friend, Dr. Haslip. Of his long and painful illness we were only too well aware; but in its very fluctuations lingered some hopes of his amendment. It is hard to lose old friends whose days have been many, and whose course is run, but it is far harder to lose one so dear and so helpful to us all at an age which should have been the prime of life, in him of a most valuable life. Before my acquaintance with Dr. Haslip I had often noticed that handsome alert man passing out of his house, then in Suffolk Place, and going swiftly on his way. Then came acquaintance, chiefly by the happy chance of two or three consultations in private practice, an association which soon ripened into affectionate regard. Then in time of war we were brought nearer and nearer to each other as we worked together on committees of public service. Again, as Dr. Macdonald of Taunton will remember, Haslip was a welcome guest indeed to us for the Annual Meeting of the British Medical Association in Cambridge. Our last meeting, for since then unfortunately I had failed to find him at home, was in the Association week at Portsmouth, when we stayed at the same hotel at Southsea. His stay was short, as his health was then far from good; but we had at least one long conversation which we did not dare to think might be the last.
In every society Haslip’s handling of affairs, and in every debate his influence, made themselves felt at once. His fine presence and keen, mobile, intellectual features had their effect in every word he said; words always of force and persuasiveness; words of a man of acute observation, large practical experience, and outstanding ability. His grip of finance was but one side of an all-round mastery of affairs, and of a sound judgement and foresight in tmes of change and development. Yet sound and capable as he was, Haslip was not nearly a man of cool and calculating mind, but also of an ardent temperament, eager to see and to aim at the best possible purpose both in the present and the future. Business affairs and professional ideals were indeed but a part of Haslip’s many-sided life. He had a lively and cultivated interest in the fine arts, and enjoyed the intimate friendship of many of the foremost artists of his day.
Haslip’s earnest diligence, his able management of the finances, and his other services to the British Medical Association, and not only these but also his good work for our profession at large, will no doubt be set forth in full in our JOURNAL. I must be content to celebrate our happy fortune in having enlisted, even for a comparatively short term of years, a Treasurer and Councillor of endowments so rare, of sympathies so wide and cultured, and of a personal ascendency so beneficent. Our hearts are moved with deep sympathy with his widow and children in their untimely bereavement.
Lord DAWSON of PENN writes:
Running through Haslip’s work was an intense love of justice and right. His judgements were never cold, but always aglow with feeling. His outspoken opinions, with their occasional impetuous expression, were inspired by an abiding desire to see the helpful hand extended to the less fortunate in life’s race.
The tale of his public service, so little did he speak of it, was only known to the few. In the practice of our profession his success, in the best sense of the word, was great.
In this last illness, the quality of the man stood forth – courage, first in struggle and then in dignified acceptance; gratitude; tender thought of others to the end. His memory will live and help us.
Sir HUMPHRY ROLLESTON, Bt., K.C.B., President of the Royal College of Physicians, writes:
G.E. Haslip’s death, not unexpected by those who knew the nature of his long illness, removes a striking personality who did much for his fellows in our profession. Much occupied in a busy general practice, it is indeed remarkable how he found time for all the work outside the daily round that he accomplished. A good man of business with wide views and imagination, his services as Honorary Treasurer of the British Medical Association during a period of great activity and importance will receive the high appreciation they deserve from others more closely connected with this side of his activities. In addition he took a keen interest in charitable schemes for the poor and needy in the medical world, and with this end in view advocated changes in the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund and Epsom College. Having known him for more than twenty years, I had learnt to value his enthusiastic, high-minded, and attractive character, and to admire his grip of affairs and public-spirited devotion to work outside the scope of medical practice but concerning the well-being of those in and connected with his profession.
Dr. R.A. BOLAM, Chairman of Council, writes:
George Ernest Haslip’s work for the British Medical Association was in many ways remarkable. It is given to few medical men to obtain that mastery of business detail which commands success in organization, to fewer still to exhibit great aptitude in matters of finance. Of this select number was Haslip. He came to be Treasurer in a time of financial anxiety and stringency for the Association, and in spite of ever-expanding activities and responsibilities its affairs were guided on sound and prosperous lines. Throughout the years of his office he did invaluable and enduring work for the interests of the Association in hours snatched from the brief leisure of a busy professional life. One of his last official acts was the signing of perhaps the largest cheque so far drawn on our account – for the purchase of our new house, in the negotiations for which his personal infuence and acumen were conspicuous.
In medico-political affairs it would happen on occasion that Haslip took a view at variance with that of the majority. Yet he earned general respect for his fearless advocacy of a minority cause, and admiration for his loyal adherence to a general decision once taken. Whilst quick and keen in business matters, shrewd in judgement of men, and skilled in affairs, Haslip radiated sympathy and inspired affection. Those to whom the privilege of his friendship was given recall the many deeds of kindness, the ready appreciation of another’s viewpoint, the instant tact – all offspring of a warm and generous nature. Through the last long months of suffering and uncertainty he showed that "Heraclean cheerfulness and courage" which led us to cherish till the end a hope heartfelt but unfulfilled.
Dr. J.A. MACDONALD, late Chairman of Council, writes:
It was with deep grief that I heard of the death of Dr. Haslip, yet I could not regret that the long-continued suffering which he had endured with such courage was at last at an end. Among the many friends I have made during my connexion with the administration of the British Medical Association, there were few dearer or who interested me so much as Dr. Haslip. In him a mind with keen business instincts, the impulses of an artistic nature, and dominated by an invincible honesty, constituted a personality which was very attractive and constantly interesting. In his invaluable work for the Association we were, not infrequently, at variance, and he never failed to support his opinion and express his criticism in forceful terms. Yet his opposition and criticism were never captious, and roused in me nothing but respect and admiration, as his actions and speech so patently had their origin in honest conviction. But it was at home or with a few friends at dinner that the lovable nature of Dr. Haslip had its fullest expression. His cheery optimism, his genial laugh, and his charity of outlook for others were a constant joy to those who were with him. In this respect I can never forget one week I spent with him as guests of Sir Clifford Allbutt at Cambridge. The intercourse with two such men will ever remain a gem in my memory. Among the many – far too many – friends who have passed away there are very few whose loss I shall regret so much as that of Dr. Haslip.
Source: The British Medical Journal, Nov. 22, 1924, page 976
Thomasopenshaw2 (WinCE)Dr. Thomas Horrocks Openshaw examined the half of a kidney sent to him after the murder of Catherine Eddowes.
Consulting Surgeon to the London Hospital and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital.
The late Mr. T.H. Openshaw, whose death took place on November 17th, after some weeks’ illness, was a Lancashire man who, owing to a family connexion, was educated at Bristol Grammar School, on leaving which he began to train as an engineer. He did not pursue that calling for long, but exchanged it for the study of medicine at the London Hospital, from which he proceeded to the membership of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1882, and the Fellowship in 1886. His other qualifications were L.S.A. 1882, L.R.C.P. London 1884, M.B. Durham 1883, B.S. 1885, and M.S. with honours from the same University in 1887. After holding the usual house offices he was elected assistant surgeon to the London Hospital, and in due course surgeon to out-patients, full surgeon, and, on superannuation, consulting surgeon. As assistant surgeon to Mr. Waren Tay, who confined his interest mostly to ophthalmology, Openshaw had unusual opportunities, for Mr. Tay’s beds were practically at his disposal. Of these opportunities he made good use, and perfected his technique as an operator. He for some time held the post of lecturer on anatomy, and at a later period on surgery. In 1916 he was elected a member of the Council of the College of Surgeons, on which he sat until 1924. In 1893 he was elected assistant surgeon to the National Orthopaedic Hospital, which institution was afterwards amalgamated with the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital under the auspices of King Edward’s Hospital Fund.
From  that date he took a keen interest in the treatment of deformities, and when the orthopaedic department was formed at the London Hospital it was placed under his charge, and remained so until his retirement from the active staff.
Openshaw had long taken an interest in military surgery as an officer of a volunteer bearer company, and, after the formation of the Territorial Army, of the R.A.M.C.T.
He was surgeon to the Lincolnshire Yeomanry, in which he rose to the rank of lieutenant-colonel. When the events of the war in South Africa called for great reinforcements and the Imperial Yeomanry Field Hospital was formed and sent out under Colonel Stonham (surgeon to the Westminster Hospital), Openshaw was one of its staff. He left it, however, after the capture of Pretoria, and became principal medical officer of No. 2 Model School Hospital at that place, in which he had a freer hand and better opportunities of doing good work than he had in a subordinate position with the Yeomanry hospital. Of these opportunities he fully availed himself. On his return to London after the cessation of regular hostilities he found, like some others, that practical patriotism such as his did not pay, for he had to build up his private consulting practice afresh. The days had gone when a distinguished surgeon could rush out in a blaze of publicity to the seat of war, do a number of spectacular operations, and return in six weeks with an enhanced reputation. But Openshaw’s solid merit could not be long overlooked, and he soon recovered his practice.
When war was declared in 1914 Openshaw was not included in the scheme of Territorial and other hospitals on the staffs of which many of his colleagues found themselves in important positions. The somewhat remarkable scheme for the formation of a great naval hospital near Edinburgh, to be staffed by London men, included him, and when this idea failed to develop into reality he was temporarily without any position such as his experience and capabilities deserved. At the London and the Orthopaedic he, like the rest of their staffs, treated the wounded who replaced so many civilians in their wards. An opportunity of special usefulness soon offered itself, however.
In 1915 it was brought to the notice of a wealthy and philanthropic lady, Mrs. Gywnn Holford, that the old defective methods of supplying war amputees with artificial limbs had broken down. The Commissioners of the Royal Hospital at Chelsea had hitherto supplied prostheses of this sort through instrument makers, without expert surgical advice. Even this imperfect method broke down under the strain of the thousands of cases needing attention. Mrs. Holford was properly advised to consult an orthopaedic surgeon, and accordingly was introduced to Mr. Openshaw. As the result of her enthusiasm and indomitable energy, Queen Mary’s Convalescent Auxiliary Hospital Committee was formed, and Rochampton House, then in the hands of the builders, was borrowed from Mr. Kenneth Wilson. In all the questions which arose, as to the best kind of limbs to be supplied and the choice of makers who should supply them, Openshaw’s advice was sought and taken, and most of the orthopaedic surgeons who joined him as colleagues as the work increased were appointed on his recommendation. The hospital was opened in July, 1915, and it is well known that it was a great success and served as a model for many of those which were afterwards established in different parts of the United Kingdom for the supply of artificial limbs.
Meanwhile his experience and abilities as a consultant were not neglected. He was appointed consulting surgeon to the Eastern Command, with the rank of colonel, in which capacity he had to visit a large number of auxiliary and other hospitals in the East of England, and to spend much time in travelling. When in 1918 the foundation of the British Orthopaedic Association was mooted, he was one of the three signatories of the circular letter calling together a preliminary meeting, the others being Sir Robert Jones and Mr. Muirhead Little. He declined office in the association, however, and took little or no part in its subsequent meetings, but he was at one time president of the Orthopaedic Subsection of the Section of Surgery of the Royal Society of Medicine, and took part in many of its meetings and of the Section which it ultimately became. He was a vice-president of the Section of Diseases of Children, which included orthopaedics, at the Annual Meeting of the British Medical Association at Liverpool in 1912, and president of the Section of Orthopaedics at Portsmouth in 1923.
Openshaw was not fond of using his pen. He wrote no book and contributed few papers to the medical press. His tastes were not literary. He had a blunt manner, made the more noticeable by that Lancashire accent which he never lost, but in an unguarded moment he would display, despite his native shrewdness, a disarming candour. If his colleagues found him a rather incalculable factor and sometimes wondered what "Tommy" would next be at, he was always popular and received a smiling welcome in whatever circle he entered. In his younger days he was a keen cyclist and he was always devoted to fishing. His other enthusiasms were Freemasonry and the Shipwrights Company, of which he was a past-master, and at whose dinners his speeches were always well received.
Openshaw was a good operator. His sure anatomical knowledge and his quick decision in emergencies served him well. His service at the London bridged over the change from the antiseptic to the aseptic ritual in the theatre. Having achieved excellent results with antiseptic methods he was loath to change, and it was some time before he yielded to the innovation of operating in gloves, for his skin was unaffected by frequent immersion in 5 percent. carbolic lotion. Being justly of the opinion that his powers were unimpaired he took his superannuation hardly, although it was in the usual course, and he bewailed the enforced cessation of his hospital work, but found some compensation in private practice and in making himself useful as the only medical member of the committee of the Royal Surgical Aid Society.
We are indebted to Mr. ROBERT MILNE, surgeon to the London Hospital, for the following appreciation:
The news that Openshaw had entered upon the Great Adventure must have come as a great surprise to very many members of the profession. His very robust, sturdy figure had been about town, and at the London Hospital old students’ dinner only four weeks ago, with no suggestion of failing bodily or mental vigour. No one meeting him called him probably anything but "Tommy," so wide-spread was this shortening of his full name, and the universal use of the title marks the width of his popularity and the esteem he won on all hands. Many memories crowd upon one who has been in touch with him since he lectured us on anatomy, and who helped to shoulder him along the platform when he left for the South African war thirty years ago, but the outstanding feature about "Tommy" was his honesty of purpose and his loyalty. In council he spoke little, but he was right in his views. He was a sportsman all his years – when he played football, when he led parties of students to Ascot on a cycle – and his final illness came partly through his zeal to capture a pike in the West Country, and partly through his loyalty to keep a professional appointment when he was not really fit. His interests were always orthopaedic, and his out-patient departments were filled with children who loved him. He might not remember their names correctly always, but he remembered their special likes, and he always had an appropriate word for them. He had a wide experience even before radiographs were introduced and before the laboratory was important; he had trained himself to accurate observation, so that his clinical instinct in diagnosis and appropriate treatment was really wonderful. His lucid speech, with a Lancashire burr and dogmatic mien, made him such a popular and practical teacher that his Friday mornings attracted patients and students alike. He loved work and he loved his London Hospital. When one could get him talking his reminiscences were voluminous, for he was steeped in the traditions and the lives of the great surgeons, in the lore of surgery, and of the London Hospital. He was a keen Freemason, interested in the historical details and past of the city companies, and an energetic volunteer. In spite of all these activities, he was always available to help actively or by advice a professional colleague, and to stick by him through thick and thin. The loss of his son, to be followed soon by the loss of his wife, were two staggering blows which did not fail to leave their traces on him towards the end, but he accepted these losses with the courageous fortitude one associated with his character. He continued his work, he continued his fishing, but he slackened in his zeal. We shall miss his form, his cheery word, his tales and experiences, but his memory will be with us as the personification of honesty and loyalty.
Dr. HERBERT R. SPENCER sends the following tribute:
Many will mourn the loss of our dear friend T.H. Openshaw, commonly known as Tommy Openshaw or "Oppy." I believe he was a very skilful surgeon, I know he was an honest and kind one, and as a man he was one of the best. He had some grevious domestic losses, and of late his health had not been good. Yet up till near the end of his life he had a keen appreciation of the good things it offered, and the catholicity of his tastes as a sportsman was, I think, not surpassed by that of any member of our profession. Hunting, shooting, fishing in all weathers, he was equally keen on them all. With his friend Pockett – a good sportsman, who predeceased him – he would shoot all day, and then travel by motor through the night to another shooting or fishing the next day, and his friends never cease to marvel at the astounding energy he showed when he had passed his three-score years and ten. He was the beloved president of the Red Spinner Angling Society, to which he presented the challenge cup which he himself won outright in 1925. Some notable fish which were taken by his rod were a chub and barbel each weighing over 7 lb., a tench of 5 lb. 14 oz., a trout of 6 lb. 4 oz., and a pike weighing over 24 lb. He was especially fond of pike fishing, and was not deterred by the most inclement of weather from its pursuit. On these occasions he used to wear an abundance of coats and wraps, which gave his short figure an imposing appearance. I think his ambition was to catch a "record" pike which should surpass the somewhat doubtful weight of Colonel Thornton’s (said to have weighed about 48 lb.) On the last occasion on which I saw him he was meditating an attack on a monstrous pike in one of the Duke of Marlborough’s lakes, which he had coveted for a long time. I hope he succeeded. In any case, his 24-lb fish was no mean trophy. Openshaw was in every deed a sportsman. Take him for all in all we shall not look upon his like again.
Source: The British Medical Journal, Nov. 23, 1929, page 986