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Biographical entry Maurice, James Blake (1839 - 1912)

MRCS April 10th 1861; FRCS Nov 25th 1864; LSA 1862; MD St Andrews 1862; JP.

2 October 1839
14 February 1912
General surgeon


Born on Oct 2nd, 1839, at Lloran House, Marlborough. He was the son of David Pierce Maurice (qv), who in turn had succeeded his father, other members of the family practising as contemporaries at Reading.

He went to Cheltenham School in August, 1856, then to St Mary's Hospital, where he was House Surgeon, but declined the offer of the post of Surgical Registrar, leading up to the Staff of St Mary's, in order to join his father at Marlborough. Marlborough had been the well-known market town where the coaches stopped on the way to Bath, but it became isolated when they ceased to run, and the Great Western Railway passed through Swindon, miles to the west. Years after, the branch through Theale to Newbury was joined up with the branch from the west to Devizes, but that again passed Marlborough miles to the east, and supplied only a terminal branch into Marlborough. For years the Bath Road was deserted except by local traffic. The by-roads around Marlborough continued impassable in the winter. James Blake Maurice's daily round to villages and farmhouses was done on horseback in his early days, his groom meeting him with a second horse about midday. But towards the latter end of his life motor traffic revived the Bath Road, passing through the Market Place, in front of Lloran House, and incidentally both the main and side roads were enormously improved.

Maurice was the happy possessor of a highly developed clinical instinct which often enabled him to arrive at a general conclusion as to the patient's condition by what appeared to be hardly more than a cursory glance. To this must be added that he understood the country people and their way of expressing themselves. Among other successes he noted that he had learnt from his father to treat injuries to the elbow-joint in the flexed position and not extended on splints, as had been advocated by some authorities.

The famous old coaching house at the west end of the town had been taken over and developed as Marlborough College, and Edward Penny, the Medical Officer for a quarter of a century, was in the habit of consulting Maurice in times of difficulty.

Maurice for thirty years served in the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry. For forty-five years he was a Member of the Corporation, and four times Mayor, a Borough Magistrate for thirty-five years and a County Magistrate for thirty. On his farm at Preshute he not only found opportunity for his country tastes, but it gave him a knowledge of the interests which absorbed the attention of the great section of his patients engaged in farming. He took a large share in founding Savernake Cottage Hospital at a time when the only alternatives existed in distant towns - Bath, Salisbury, or Reading. In addition he held minor posts - Certifying Factory Surgeon; Medical Officer to the Somerset Hospital, Froxfield, and to the Great Western Railway Provident Society; Referee to the Railway Passengers Accident Assurance Company.

He died at Lloran House, Marlborough, on Feb 14th, 1912, and his funeral in Preshute Churchyard was the largest and most representative within living memory. He married the daughter of Nathaniel Kindersley, of the Indian Civil Service, and was survived by her and by twelve out of a family of thirteen children. Nine of his sons were educated at Marlborough College. At his death four sons were members of the medical profession. The third son, Oliver Colley Maurice, MRCS, who had joined his father in practice, died a few months later, and was buried beside his father. A younger son, Walter Maurice, continued his father's practice in still another generation.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Lancet, 1912, i, 901].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England