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Biographical entry Maurice, Brian Armstead (1927 - 2008)

MRCS and FRCS 1958; MB BChir Cambridge 1953; MChir 1961.

28 July 1927
Sutton, Cheshire, UK
22 December 2008
General surgeon


Brian Maurice was a consultant general surgeon at Kent and Sussex Hospital in Tunbridge Wells. He was born on 28 July 1927 in Sutton, Macclesfield, Cheshire, the elder son of Norman B Maurice, a chemist who carried out pioneering research into synthetic nylon, and his wife Dorothy (née Armstead), who was the first woman graduate in biology from Manchester University and the last of the family of Armsteads. Brian was educated at Oundle School, where he played in the first XV, was gymnastic champion and became a fine tennis player. He entered Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he rowed for the college. He went on to St Thomas' Hospital for his clinical training. There, in 1953, he and 20 other medical students went to Zierikzee to help in the flood relief, commemorated in his diary, which recorded the bitter cold, the daily recovery of cadavers and the diet of bread and tomato soup: Brian never ate tomato soup again.

After qualifying, he did house appointments and had a spell as a casualty officer. He did his National Service in the RAF as a flight lieutenant, and played rugby for the Command XV. He returned to civilian life as a senior house officer at St Peter's Hospital, Chertsey, as a demonstrator of anatomy, and then worked at the Rowley Bristow Orthopaedic Hospital. He was then registrar at St Thomas' and senior registrar at King's College Hospital, during which time he published on direct arterial surgery for claudication, pilonidal sinus and ultra-violet fluorescence of bladder tumours following the administration of tetracycline. A much later medical publication was Surgery for general practitioners (Castle House, 1989).

In the College, he was a surgical tutor for many years in the Tunbridge Wells area and, with his colleague Ronnie King, established the postgraduate centre at the Kent and Sussex Hospital.

At the age of 57, he contracted hepatitis from a needle injury and was in coma for some time. He miraculously recovered, but decided to retire. Three years later, he underwent quadruple heart bypass surgery and an aortic valve replacement.

Brian Maurice had many fascinating interests and hobbies outside medicine, particularly genealogy, water gardens and 'koi' fish. He was an avid collector of playing cards, including the commemorative ones of the Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards, of which he became master in 1970. He later became a liveryman of the Barbers Company. An enthusiastic golfer, he was chairman of Scientific Putting Ltd, designing a putter which was approved by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, and publishing a book on the subject. He was a keen bridge player throughout his busy life.

In 1958 he married a Nightingale nurse, Marjorie Sammons, a theatre sister known as 'Sammy'. They had three children. His son, Adrian, became a loss adjustor and followed his father into the livery of the Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards, becoming master in 2007, the third generation of his family to hold the honour. His daughter Laura Jane Armstead is married with three sons, while his son Christopher Armstead now works for British Telecom. Brian Armstead Maurice died on 22 December, 2008.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Information from Sammy Maurice, Timothy G Williams].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England