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Biographical entry Manby, Sir Alan Reeve (1848 - 1925)

MVO 1901; Knight Bachelor 1903; KCVO 1918; Knight Commander of the Dannebrog Order; MRCS April 19th 1870; FRCS (elected as a Member of twenty years' standing) April 11th 1918; LSA 1869; MD Durham 1888.

4 June 1848
East Rudham, Norfolk
29 September 1925
East Rudham, Norfolk


Born on June 4th, 1848, at East Rudham, Norfolk, where both his father, Frederic Manby, and his grandfather had practised. Educated at Epsom College, he then studied at Guy's Hospital, where he was Obstetric Resident, after which he joined his father in the family practice. His elder brother was Frederic Edward Manby (qv).

In 1885 Alan Manby was appointed Surgeon-Apothecary to the Prince of Wales at Sandringham, and when the latter became King Edward VII Manby was made Physician Extraordinary, a position continued under King George V, and in the household of Queen Alexandra. In 1901 he travelled with King George and Queen Mary, then Duke and Duchess of York, during their tour.

Dr Maurice Mottram, who was his assistant for five years, said of him that, whilst unlike other country practitioners he was not so specially interested in horseflesh, he had a mechanical bent, and he consequently took at once to motoring, his first car having neither hood nor windscreen, nor pneumatic tyres. In 1873 he invented a flexible spiral probe, in 1886 a modification of a lithotrite.

He had a considerable obstetric practice, and foresaw the effect on the general practitioner of the introduction of certificated midwives. He held exalted opinions of the system of apprenticeship, maintaining that both employer and employed had a definite duty the one to the other. The assistant should work in his chief's interest; it was incumbent on the older man to instruct the younger in all those matters appertaining to the conduct of a practice to which no attention is given in the ordinary medical education.

During many years Manby was an active member of the Norfolk and Norwich Medico-Chirurgical Society, and its President in 1892. In 1896 he was President of the East Anglian Branch of the British Medical Association, Vice-President of the Section of Obstetrics at the Oxford Meeting in 1904, and of the Section of Therapeutics at the Toronto Meeting in 1906; at the Ipswich Meeting in 1900, Hon Secretary of the Section of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, and for seven years a Member of the Parliamentary Bills Committee.

He died at East Rudham on Sept 29th, 1925. He was survived by Lady Manby, whom, as Charlotte Annie Farrer, daughter of his neighbour Edmund Farrer, of Petygards Hall, Swaffham, he had married in 1876; by his son, the Hon Mr Justice Percy Manby, Judicial Commissioner of the Federated Malay States and Judge of the Supreme Court, Straits Settlements; and by his daughter, wife of F J Winans, MRCS, Surgeon-Apothecary to the Royal Household at Sandringham. His portrait is in the College Collection.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Lancet, 1925, ii, 783. Brit Med Jour, 1925, ii, 674].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England