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Biographical entry Frazer, John Ernest Sullivan (1870 - 1946)

MRCS 30 July 1891; FRCS 9 June 1898; LRCP 1891; DSc London 1932.

30 January 1870
15 April 1946


Born in London, 30 January 1870, second son of Joseph Frazer and his wife Frances E Mahony. He was educated at Dulwich and St Bartholomew's Hospital, qualifying in 1891 at the age of 21. He intended to become a surgeon, held various hospital posts in London and the country, and took the Fellowship in 1898. But his career was cut short by after-results of severe septicaemia arising from an accidental wound at a post-mortem examination.

Frazer now turned to anatomy for his livelihood. He became demonstrator of anatomy at St George's Hospital, transferred to King's College as senior demonstrator under Peter Thompson (1871-1921) in 1905, and to St Mary's as lecturer in 1911. He was promoted University of London professor of anatomy at St Mary's Hospital Medical School in 1914. During the 1914-18 war he served as surgeon to out-patients at the hospital. Frazer retained his professorship till March 1940, and during this long term of office proved himself an original anatomist, among the foremost osteologists and embryologists of his day, and a brilliant and inspiring teacher. He was created emeritus professor in 1942. He had been succeeded in the chair by James Hugo Gray, an Australian of outstanding promise, who died untimely on 20 December 1941, aged 32 (Journal of Anatomy 1941-42, 76, 319-21, with portrait and bibliography).

At the College, Frazer was a Hunterian professor 1915-16 and examined for the primary Fellowship 1919. He also examined for Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, and London universities. He was secretary of the Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland 1915-19, for many years a member of its council, and president 1935-37. He was secretary of the section of anatomy and physiology of the British Medical Association at the Birmingham meeting 1911, and Harveian lecturer of the Harveian Society of London in 1924. Frazer was widely known by his publications, especially his Anatomy of the human Skeleton and his Manual of Embryology, with his own drawings. In his lectures, which he illustrated with excellent coloured-chalk drawings, he stressed the surgical aspects of anatomy. He formed a fine collection of wax models of developing organs and embryos.

Frazer married in 1910 Violet Lowder Jacques, daughter of John T Jacques, MRCS 1865, of Leicester; Mrs Frazer survived him with a son. He lived at various addresses in Kensington: 2 Pembridge Crescent, 8 Clydesdale Road, and finally 53 Cathcart Road, SW10, where he died after nine years of illness on 15 April 1946, aged 76. He was buried at the City of Westminster cemetery, Hanwell. In early years Frazer was a fine athlete and a champion hammer-thrower. He was a large, strong muscular man, but capable of deft manipulations in the laboratory, and an accomplished draughtsman. In middle life he enjoyed golf and "the less violent forms of exercise". He was a staunch conservative, of equable, humorous, and kindly temperament.

Anomaly of omo-hyoid. J Anat. 1900-01, 35, 494.
The lower cervical fasciae. Ibid. 1903-04, 38, 52-64.
The insertion of the pyriformis and obturator intemus and formation of posterior circular capsular fibres and upper retinaculum of Weitbrecht. Ibid 1903-04, 38, 170-185.
On some minor markings on bones. Ibid. 1905-06, 40, 267-281.
Derivation of the human hypothenar muscles. Ibid. 1907-08, 42, 326-334. Development of the larynx. Ibid. 1909-10, 44, 156-191.
Persistent canal of His. Ibid. 1909-10, 44, 395.
Pharyngeal end of Rathke's pouch. Ibid. 1910-11, 45, 190-196.
Formation of the nasal cavities. Ibid. 1910-11, 45, 347-356, and further] communication 1911-12, 46, 416-433.
Second visceral arch and groove in the tubo-tympanic region. Ibid. 1913-14, 48,' 391-408.
On the factors concerned in causing rotation of the intestine in man, with R H Robbins. Ibid. 1915-16, 50, 75-110.
Formation of the pars membranacea septi. Ibid. 1916-17, 51, 19-29.
Formation of the duodenal curve. Ibid. 1918-19, 53, 292-297.
Functions of the liver in the embryo. Ibid. 1919-20, 54, 116-124.
Report on an anencephalic embryo. Ibid. 1921-22, 56, 12-19.
Early formations of the middle ear and Eustachian tube: a criticism. Ibid. 1922-23, 57, 18-30.
Disappearance of the precervical sinus. Ibid. 1926-27, 61, 132-143.
Note on R H Hunter's paper on development of the duodenum (J Anat. 1926-27, 61, 206-212). Ibid. 1926-27, 61, 356-9.
Development of lower end of vagina, with A Bloomfield. Ibid. 1927-28, 62, 9-32. Development of the region of the isthmus rhombencephali. Ibid. 1928-29,63, 7-18.
The terminal part of the Wolffian duct. Ibid. 1934-35, 69, 455-468.
A curious abnormal human brain. Ibid. p. 526-7.
There are also numerous shorter communications in the Proceedings of the. Anatomical Society, published as supplementary matter in the Journal of Anatomy.
The Anatomy of the human Skeleton. London, Churchill 1914; 2nd edition, 1920; 3rd edition, 1933; 4th edition, 1940.
Development, opening chapter in Queen Charlotte's Textbook of Obstetrics. London, Churchill, 1st to 6th editions, 1927-43.
A Manual of Embryology. London, Bailliere, 1931; 2nd edition, 1940.
Buchanan's Dissection guide, with E Barclay-Smith and R H Robbins. London, Bailliere, 1930.
Buchanan's Manual of Anatomy including Embryology, 6th edition, London,. Bailliere, 1937.
The two foregoing are revisions of the work of A M Buchanan (1844-1915).
Manual of practical Anatomy, with R H Robbins. London, Bailliere 1937.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times, 17 April 1946, p 6f; Lancet, 1946, 1, 635; Brit med J 1946, 1, 664; J Anat. 1946, 80, 168, with portrait; information from Mrs Frazer].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England