Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry Jones, Sir Philip Sydney (1836 - 1918)

Knight Bachelor 1905; MRCS Oct 29th 1858; FRCS May 30th 1861; MB Lond 1859; MD 1860; LSA 1860.

Sydney, Australia
18 September 1918
Strathfield, New South Wales, Australia
General surgeon and Physician


Born in Sydney and was educated at three local schools. He came to Europe to finish his general education, and was enrolled as a student of medicine at University College, London, where he obtained medals for proficiency in anatomy and in medicine, and won the Fellowes Gold Medal as the most proficient student in clinical knowledge of his year. He was also House Surgeon, House Physician, and Resident Medical Officer at University College Hospital, and spent some months studying medicine and surgery in Paris. He returned to Sydney in 1861 and began to practise at 10 College Street. Within a few months he was elected Surgeon to the Sydney Infirmary (later the Sydney Hospital). His colleagues were Charles Nathan, Sir Alfred Roberts, and Charles McKay. The duties of the staff in those days were onerous, since there was only one resident house surgeon, and each member of the honorary staff was expected to do his own dressings. Dry dressings were unknown, and much time was spent in applying wet cloths. Sir Philip was elected Consulting Surgeon after holding office at the infirmary for fourteen years.

Like the other medical practitioners of his day, Sir Philip Sydney Jones carried on a general practice. There was no specialism in the sixties, and all kinds of special and general surgery were carried out by the medical practitioners. Sir Philip was the first medical man in Sydney to remove an ovarian tumour successfully. Giving up general practice, he established himself as a physician in 1876, and was the first in Sydney to engage in consulting work. He was appointed Consulting Physician to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in 1887. At the time of his death he was the senior member of the Royal Society of New South Wales, his membership having lasted fifty-one years. He had always taken a leading part in the Society's medical section. In 1882 he was a member of the Royal Commission which investigated and reported on the arrangements of the Quarantine Station. The result of this commission was the establishment of the Quarantine Station at North Head, Port Jackson, for the reception of all cases of infectious disease that came to New South Wales by sea. The value of the work of this Commission is shown by the fact that it was not necessary to remodel the system suggested by the Royal Commission, even after thirty-five years' experience.

He was much interested in the progress of education in the Colony, and especially in that of medical students. He was for a time Examiner in Medicine to the University of Sydney; a Member of the Senate from 1887-1918; and Vice-Chancellor, 1904-1906. He was also a member of the Committee appointed in 1868 to raise funds to erect a "permanent and substantial memorial as a token of the heart-felt gratitude of the inhabitants of New South Wales for the recovery of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh". The memorial took shape as the Royal Alfred Hospital, which was incorporated in 1878. Sir Philip served on the Board of the hospital, for nineteen years as a Director, and for many years as Chairman of the Medical Board. He was unanimously elected President of the third International Medical Congress of Australia, held in Sydney in 1892. His address dealt with the large saving of life which sanitation had effected in the Colony, and he spoke of electric lighting, gas-heating, and smoke-consumption as desirable reforms in the future. As President of the New South Wales Branch of the British Medical Association in 1896-1897 he delivered a thoughtful address, in which he spoke of the X rays and the use of serums, then in their infancy, as subjects of great promise. The address reveals the acumen and foresight possessed by Sir Philip as a medical practitioner. He owed his knighthood to his distinguished services to science in the war against tuberculosis. He was knighted as a Birthday Honour in 1905.

Sir Philip Sydney Jones was for thirty years a member of the Medical Board of New South Wales, of which he was elected President in 1909. He was a member of the Royal Commission which inquired in 1895 into the locally notorious Dean case. In 1903 he was a member of the Royal Commission on the Decline of the Birth-rate and on the Causes of Infantile Mortality. In 1913 he was a member of the Tuberculosis Board, appointed by Government to advise concerning measures for the suppression of tuberculosis. He will perhaps be specially remembered for his unceasing efforts to control tuberculosis, and as the pioneer in New South Wales of open-air treatment. He was instrumental in establishing the Queen Victoria Homes at Thirlmere and at Wentworth Falls, where the object is to treat the early phases of the disease. He was for long President of the Executive Committee of these sanatoria. In 1914 he took a leading part in founding the National Association for the Prevention and Cure of Consumption, and was its first President. He also gave valuable advice concerning the institution of anti-tuberculous dispensaries founded in New South Wales between 1913 and 1918. He took an active part in many charitable institutions, notably in the New South Wales Institute for the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind, of which he was Vice-President in 1916.

Sir Philip was given to scientific pursuits, and was an original member of the Linnean Society of New South Wales (1875), and, up to the last, a trustee of the Australian Museum. He was a Congregationalist, and for thirty years was senior deacon of his church. He married in 1863 Anna Howard, daughter of the Rev G Charter. She died in 1892, leaving a family of three sons and four daughters, who survived their father. The eldest son, Dr Philip Sydney Jones, practised at The Glebe, New South Wales. Sir Philip died at Strathfield, where he owned land, on Sept 18th, 1918. A presentation portrait by Percy Spence, painted at the request of the Council of the New South Wales Branch of the British Medical Association in 1905 on the occasion of his receiving the honour of Knight Bachelor, hangs in the Great Hall of the University of Sydney. There is another portrait in sepia, also made in 1905, and presented by his fellow-members on the executive committee of the tuberculosis sanatoria.

Sir Philip Jones was to the medical profession of New South Wales a pattern of the wise physician of exemplary probity, of unfailing courtesy, and of the widest charity. He utilized his professional attainments as far as possible for the benefit of his fellow-citizens. He employed his great experience in the care and treatment of the sick, more especially in advocating better methods for the control of tuberculosis. For a quarter of a century he was recognized as the leader of the medical profession in New South Wales.

Jones contributed a few papers on the treatment of consumption and on medical ethics to the Australasian Med Gaz, and published a paper on "The Tuberculosis Problem in Australia" in the Brit Jour Tubercul, 1910, iv, 1.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Med Jour of Australia, 1918, ii, 272].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England