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Biographical entry Vaughan-Jackson, Oliver James (1907 - 2003)

MRCS 1932; FRCS 1936; BM BCh Oxford 1932; Hon DSc Newfoundland; LRCP 1932.

6 July 1907
Berkhamstead, UK
7 November 2003
Cerne Abbas, Dorset, UK
Orthopaedic surgeon


Oliver Vaughan-Jackson was a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the London Hospital and a specialist in hand surgery. He was born in Berkhamstead on 6 July 1907, the eldest son of Surgeon-Captain P Vaughan-Jackson RN. He was educated at Berkhamstead and Balliol College, Oxford, where he played for the winning rugby XV, before going on to the London Hospital for his clinical studies. After completing his house jobs he specialised in surgery and passed the FRCS in 1936.

Realising war was on the horizon, he joined the RNVR in 1938 and by 1939 found himself a surgeon in the Royal Naval Hospital at Chatham, where he remained for the next four years, until in 1944 he was posted to the RN Hospital, Sydney.

At the end of the war, he returned to the London Hospital as consultant orthopaedic surgeon, joining the energetic new team led by Sir Reginald Watson-Jones and Sir Henry Osmond-Clarke. He was also on the consultant staff of St Bartholomew’s Hospital, Rochester. At the London his particular interest was in the surgery of the hand, and especially the treatment of the complications of rheumatoid arthritis. In 1948 he published an account of a hitherto undescribed syndrome whereby extensor tendons, frayed by underlying arthritic osteophytes, rupture – a syndrome to which his name is eponymously attached.

A gentle and genial man, Oliver was a popular teacher and much admired by his juniors for his patient and painstaking surgical technique. Towards the end of his career he spent a good deal of his spare time in Newfoundland, Canada, at the Memorial Hospital, where a new multidisciplinary department for rheumatology had been set up. He was appointed professor of orthopaedic surgery there.

After retirement he went to live in Newfoundland, but returned towards the evening of his life to live in Cerne Abbas, Dorset, where he died on 7 November 2003. He married Joan Madeline née Bowring in 1939. They had two sons.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Balliol College Register; Memorial University of Newfoundland Gazette 14 July 2005.].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England