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Biographical entry Smith, Rutherford John Pye (1848 - 1921)

MRCS July 26th 1871; FRCS June 10th 1875; LRCP Lond 1872; Hon ChM Sheffield 1908; JP.

23 March 1921
Ampthill, Bedfordshire
General surgeon


The third son of Ebenezer Pye Smith (qv). He was born in London in 1848, studied at Guy's Hospital, and in 1876 settled in general practice at 45 Glossop Road, Sheffield. In 1877 he was elected Surgeon to the Public Hospital and Dispensary, which subsequently became the Sheffield Royal Hospital. The buildings were inadequate and antiquated, but Pye Smith, following Listerian methods, devoted himself to improvements, which were gradually effected, on the surgical side. A careful surgeon without being brilliant, his results were good, and he gradually came to be ranked as one of the leading surgeons of the district. He was a slow worker and the day's work was got through laboriously. He was unable to depute details of his work to others; he liked himself to dress his cases in the hospital, even to applying the bandages. In some ways he kept in touch with developments of surgery; on other points he was very conservative. He was a leading Congregationalist, much engaged in religious and philanthropic work, being greatly assisted by Mrs Pye Smith, kindly and tolerant in the fullest sense. He was, moreover, engaged in the development of the University of Sheffield, in Municipal Education, in the British Medical Association, and in the General Medical Council. He was also Consulting Surgeon to the Montague Hospital, Mexborough, and Medical Defence under the Workmen's Compensation Act. He spent his holidays on walking tours in the British Isles, delighting in scenery, church architecture, music, and painting.

In 1908, at the age of 60, he retired from the active staff of the Sheffield Royal Hospital, and became Consulting Surgeon. In that year he delivered an address on surgery at the Sheffield Meeting of the British Medical Association. At the same time the University conferred upon him the degree of ChM. He had been elected Professor of Surgery at the University on its constitution in 1905, and was an important member of the Faculty both on its senate and council. He represented the University on the General Medical Council from 1911-1919.

He continued his surgical practice, and on the outbreak of the War (1914-1918) served throughout on the staff of the Wharnecliff War Hospital, the 3rd Northern Territorial General Hospital, Sheffield. He was overtaxed by the work, but regained a measure of health at his country house, Clyde, Ampthill, Bedfordshire, until he succumbed to a two days' attack of influenza on March 23rd, 1921.

By his will he left, subject to his wife's life interest, £1000 for the Chair in Surgery at the University of Sheffield, as well as bequests to the Royal Sheffield Hospital and other bodies. His elder brother, Philip Henry Pye Smith, MD, was the Physician to Guy's Hospital who edited the posthumous work by Hilton Fagge, Textbook of Medicine.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Guy's Hosp Gaz, 1921, xxxv, 188, with portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England