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Biographical entry Weir, Arthur Nesham (1869 - 1902)

MRCS May 12th 1892; FRCS June 14th 1894; LRCP Lond May 12th 1892; BSc Lond 1888; MB (Hons in obstetric medicine) 1894; MD (Hons in state medicine) 1899; DPH 1898.

12 June 1869
25 January 1902
General surgeon


Born at Newcastle-upon-Tyne on June 12th, 1869, at the house of his grandfather, William Nesham, Surgeon to the Newcastle Lying-in Hospital and Out-Charity. He was taken out as a baby to Singapore, where his father, James Weir, was a merchant. After two years his family returned to Scotland and he was sent to Kelvinside Academy, next to a private school. He entered Merchant Taylors' School in January, 1883, where he was on the classical side; at the age of 16 he was the youngest boy in the Sixth Form and was in the School XV playing forward, and rowing bow in the School VIII. He left in 1886, and entered St Bartholomew's Hospital in 1887, gaining the Entrance Scholarship; in 1888 the Junior Scholarship, and in 1892 the Brackenbury Surgical Scholarship.

As a keen athlete he would begin the day in summer by a swim in the Serpentine. He was Captain of the Hospital Rugby Football Team in 1890-1891, playing also for the United Hospitals and for Middlesex. He acted as House Surgeon to Sir Thomas Smith, and was extern Midwifery Assistant. For three years he was Assistant Demonstrator of Anatomy. In 1899, after a holiday in Italy, he was for eight months Medical Inspector, Burials Act Department at the Home Office. He then went out to South Africa as Civil Surgeon to Princess Christian's Hospital, arriving just when the hospital was moved from Cecil Rhodes' garden at Cape Town to Princetown, ten miles from Durban. Here he worked in harmony with Colonel Matthias, RAMC, and his friend, Dr G V Worthington. On one occasion Weir set out to bring in the wounded after an engagement twenty-four miles away at 4 pm, and got back at 8 am the next morning, forty-eight miles in sixteen hours with horsed ambulance.

In January, 1901, he returned to England in charge of transport, and after a fortnight's stay returned to No 19 Stationary Hospital, Harrismith, where, with Colonel Matthias, he with two others had charge of 300 beds - mostly typhoid cases.

With all his hard work he found time to lay down three dust tennis-courts, which were well patronized. He again came back to England in charge of the convalescent transport City of Vienna with about 750 patients under three surgeons, in July, 1901. After holidays in Wales and Switzerland he was appointed in October, 1901, Medical Officer of Health for Tottenham, and had already devised a scheme for an Isolation Hospital, when on Jan 24th, 1902, whilst travelling in a train between Brockley and New Cross, a woman saw him fall out of the train on the wrong side. The train was stopped and Weir was taken at once to Guy's Hospital. He was conscious on arrival and told the House Surgeon that his right humerus was fractured. He became unconscious, was trephined, but died on Jan 25th, 1902, when it was found that the base of the skull had been extensively fractured. A verdict of 'Accidental Death' was returned at the inquest, and he was buried at Kensal Green. The funeral was attended by many medical representatives, including representatives of athletic clubs.

The President of the Royal Medico-Chirurgical Society, Dr F W Pavy, referred to Weir as "a man of great natural refinement, with an unusually keen sense of honour. These two factors combined to make a most lovable character. He was a man of considerable ability, of sterling qualities, and a highly promising member of our profession."

Sources used to compile this entry: [Merchant Taylors' School Register, 1851-1920, 176. St Bart's Hosp Jour, 1901-2, ix, 105, with portrait - a good likeness. Trans Med-Chir Soc, 1902, lxxxv, p. cxxi].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England