Humphry Rolleston

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Sir Humphry Rolleston, Bt
Humphry Davy Rolleston 1916.jpg
Humphry Davy Rolleston in 1916
Born(1862-06-21)21 June 1862
Died24 September 1944(1944-09-24) (aged 82)
Education Marlborough College, St John’s College, Cambridge, Barts
Occupation Physician
Years active1888-1932
Known forPresident, Royal College of Physicians (1922-26), Physician-in-Ordinary to King George VI (1923-32)
Medical career
Institutions St George’s Hospital
Signature Sir Humphrey Davey Rolleston 1891, Royal Medical Chirurgical Society Obligation Book 1805.jpg

Sir Humphry Davy Rolleston, 1st Baronet, GCVO, KCB (21 June 1862 – 23 September 1944) was a prominent English physician.


Rolleston was the son of George Rolleston (Linacre Professor of Physiology at Oxford) and Grace Davy, daughter of John Davy and niece of Sir Humphry Davy, Bt (chemist). [1] He was educated at Marlborough College, proceeded to St John's College, Cambridge and graduated in Natural Sciences in 1886. After clinical training at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London he qualified MB (Cambridge) in 1888 and MD in 1892.

George Rolleston Physician and zoologist

George Rolleston MA MD FRCP FRS was an English physician and zoologist. He was the first Linacre Professor of Anatomy and Physiology to be appointed at the University of Oxford, a post he held from 1860 until his death in 1881. Rolleston, a friend and protégé of Thomas Henry Huxley, was an evolutionary biologist.

John Davy (chemist) British physician and chemist

John Davy FRS FRSE was a Cornish doctor, amateur chemist, and brother of the noted chemist Sir Humphry Davy, and cousin of Edmund Davy.

Humphry Davy Cornish chemist

Sir Humphry Davy, 1st Baronet was a Cornish chemist and inventor, who is best remembered today for isolating, using electricity, a series of elements for the first time: potassium and sodium in 1807 and calcium, strontium, barium, magnesium and boron the following year, as well as discovering the elemental nature of chlorine and iodine. He also studied the forces involved in these separations, inventing the new field of electrochemistry. In 1799 Davy experimented with nitrous oxide and was astonished at how it made him laugh, so he nicknamed it "laughing gas", and wrote about its potential anaesthetic properties in relieving pain during surgery.

Public service and honours

In 1891 he became Physician at St George's Hospital, Hyde Park Corner, London and continued there until 1919. [2] This period, however, was interrupted by his service during the Second Boer War, where he served with the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital, Pretoria. [3] In World War I he was consulting surgeon and surgeon rear-admiral with the Royal Navy. He remained active on consultative board for the Navy for many years thereafter.

St Georges Hospital Hospital in Blackshaw Road, London

St George's Hospital is a teaching hospital in Tooting, London. Founded in 1733, it is one of the UK's largest teaching hospitals. It is run by the St George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. It shares its main hospital site in Tooting in the London Borough of Wandsworth, with the St George's, University of London which trains NHS staff and carries out advanced medical research.

Second Boer War war between South African Republic and the United Kingdom

The Second Boer War was fought between the British Empire and two Boer states, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State, over the Empire's influence in South Africa. It is also known variously as the Boer War, Anglo-Boer War, or South African War. Initial Boer attacks were successful, and although British reinforcements later reversed these, the war continued for years with Boer guerrilla warfare, until harsh British counter-measures brought them to terms.

Imperial Yeomanry

The Imperial Yeomanry was a volunteer mounted force of the British Army that mainly saw action during the Second Boer War. Created on 2 January 1900, the force was initially recruited from the middle classes and traditional yeomanry sources, but subsequent contingents were more significantly working class in their composition. The existing yeomanry regiments contributed only a small proportion of the total Imperial Yeomanry establishment. In Ireland 120 men were recruited in February 1900. It was officially disbanded in 1908, with individual Yeomanry regiments incorporated into the new Territorial Force.

Rolleston gave the 1895 Goulstonian Lectures on the subject of On the suprarenal bodies, the 1919 Lumleian Lectures on cerebro-spinal fever [4] and the 1928 Harveian Oration on Cardio-Vascular Diseases Since Harvey's Discovery.

The Lumleian Lectures are a series of annual lectures started in 1582 by the Royal College of Physicians of London and currently run by the Lumleian Trust. The name commemorates John Lumley, 1st Baron Lumley, who with Richard Caldwell of the College endowed the lectures, initially confined to surgery, but now on general medicine. William Harvey did not announce his work on the circulation of the blood in the Lumleian Lecture for 1616 although he had some partial notes on the heart and blood which led to the discovery of the circulation ten years later. By that time ambitious plans for a full anatomy course based on weekly lectures had been scaled back to a lecture three times a year.

The Harveian Oration is a yearly lecture held at the Royal College of Physicians of London. It was instituted in 1656 by William Harvey, discoverer of the systemic circulation. Harvey made financial provision for the college to hold an annual feast on St. Luke's Day at which an oration would be delivered in Latin to praise the college's benefactors and to exhort the Fellows and Members of this college to search and study out the secrets of nature by way of experiment. Until 1865, the Oration was given in Latin, as Harvey had specified, and known as the Oratio anniversaria; but it was thereafter spoken in English. Many of the lectures were published in book form.

Rolleston was President of the London Medical Society in 1904, the Royal Society of Medicine between 1918 and 1920 and of the Royal College of Physicians between 1922 and 1925. He chaired the Rolleston Committee formed in 1924.

Royal Society of Medicine

The Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) is one of the major providers of accredited postgraduate medical education in the United Kingdom. Each year, the RSM organises over 400 academic and public events. spanning 56 areas of special interest providing a multi-disciplinary forum for discussion and debate. Videos of many key lectures are also available online, increasing access to the Society’s education programme. The RSM is home to one of the largest medical libraries in Europe, with an extensive collection of books, journals, electronic journals and online medical databases. As well as providing medical education, the Society aims to promote an exchange of information and ideas on the science, practice and organisation of medicine, both within the health professions and with responsible and informed public opinion. The Society is not a policy-making body and does not issue guidelines or standards of care.

Royal College of Physicians professional body of doctors of general medicine and its subspecialties in the UK

The Royal College of Physicians is a British professional body dedicated to improving the practice of medicine, chiefly through the accreditation of physicians by examination. Founded in 1518, it set the first international standard in the classification of diseases, and its library contains medical texts of great historical interest.

In 1924, following concerns about the treatment of addicts by doctors, James Smith Whitaker suggested to the Home Office who suggested to the Ministry of Health Departmental Committee on Morphine and Heroin Addiction be formed under the chairmanship of Sir Humphry Rolleston to "... consider and advise as to the circumstances, if any, in which the supply of morphine and heroin to persons suffering from addiction to those drugs may be regarded as medically advisable, and as to the precautions which it is desirable that medical practitioners administering or prescribing morphine or heroin should adopt for the avoidance of abuse, and to suggest any administrative measures that seem expedient for securing observance of such precautions". The committee is usually referred to as the Rolleston Committee.

From 1923 [5] to 1932 [6] he was Physician-in-Ordinary to King George V. He was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1918, [7] created a baronet, of Upper Brook Street in the parish of Saint George, Hanover Square, in the County of London, in June 1925 [8] and made a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) in 1929. [9]

Order of the Bath series of awards of an order of chivalry of the United Kingdom

The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is a British order of chivalry founded by George I on 18 May 1725. The name derives from the elaborate medieval ceremony for appointing a knight, which involved bathing as one of its elements. The knights so created were known as "Knights of the Bath". George I "erected the Knights of the Bath into a regular Military Order". He did not revive the Order of the Bath, since it had never previously existed as an Order, in the sense of a body of knights who were governed by a set of statutes and whose numbers were replenished when vacancies occurred.

Baronet A hereditary title awarded by the British Crown

A baronet or the rare female equivalent, a baronetess, is the holder of a baronetcy, a hereditary title awarded by the British Crown. The practice of awarding baronetcies was originally introduced in England in the 14th century and was used by James I of England in 1611 as a means of raising funds.

Royal Victorian Order series of awards in an order of chivalry of the United Kingdom

The Royal Victorian Order is a dynastic order of knighthood established in 1896 by Queen Victoria. It recognises distinguished personal service to the monarch of the Commonwealth realms, members of the monarch's family, or to any viceroy or senior representative of the monarch. The present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, is the sovereign of the order, the order's motto is Victoria, and its official day is 20 June. The order's chapel is the Savoy Chapel in London.

In 1925, on the death of Thomas Clifford Allbutt, the Regius Professor of Physic (Cambridge), Rolleston was appointed as his successor, but under a newly imposed age-limit he retired from that position in 1932. [2] He became President of the Medical Society of London in 1926.

On his death in 1944, aged 82, Rolleston's baronetcy became extinct.

History of medicine

Rolleston's writings on the history of medicine include:

Rolleston was one of the two contributors to the revised and updated version for Encyclopædia Britannica of the bulk of Thomas Clifford Allbutt's article Medicine which had been in the 11th edition. As revised for the 14th edition (1929) Rolleston's part was Medicine, General (in volume 15), followed by the other part, Medicine, History of, by Charles Singer, Lecturer in the History of Medicine, University of London.

A small collection of his papers is held at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland. [12]


His non-historical medical writing include:

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Fitzpatrick Lecture

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  1. Weatherall, Mark W. (2004). Rolleston, George (1829–1881). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 1. Oxford University Press. pp. 623–625. doi:10.1093/odnb/9780192683120.013.24026. ISBN   978-0-19-861397-8.(subscription required)
  2. 1 2 3 W. J. O'Connor British Physiologists 1885–1914: a Biographical Dictionary Manchester University Press, 1991: Page 22
  3. Brown, G.H. "Humphry Davy (Sir) Rolleston". Munk's Roll: Volume 4. Royal Society. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  4. Rolleston, H. (1919). "The Lumleian Lectures on Cerebro-Spinal Fever. Delivered Before the Royal College of Physicians of London, Lecture III". The British Medical Journal. 1 (3045): 573–575. doi:10.1136/bmj.1.3045.573. PMC   2341044 .
  5. "No. 32874". The London Gazette . 26 October 1923. p. 7209.
  6. "No. 33849". The London Gazette . 26 July 1932. p. 4862.
  7. "No. 30723". The London Gazette . 31 May 1918. p. 6527.
  8. "No. 32954". The London Gazette . 8 July 1924. p. 5249.
  9. "No. 33501". The London Gazette . 31 May 1929. p. 3671.
  10. Rolleston, H. (1924). "Medical aspects of Samuel Johnson". Glasgow Med J. 101: 173–91.
  11. Rolleston, H. (1933). "The two Heberdens". Annals of Medical History. 5: 566–83.
  12. "Centennial of the Army Medical Library : address of Humphry Davy Rolleston 1936–1944". National Library of Medicine.
  13. The British encyclopaedia of medical practice : including medicine, surgery, obstetrics, gynaecology and other special subjects. 12. London : Butterworth & co., ltd. 1936.
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baronet
(of Upper Brook Street)