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Biographical entry McMurray, Thomas Porter (1887 - 1949)

CBE 1946; MRCS and FRCS ad eundem 15 April 1948; MB ChB BAO Belfast 1910; FRCS Edinburgh 1923.

5 December 1887
16 November 1949
General surgeon and Orthopaedic surgeon


Born at Belfast, 5 December 1887, the sixth child and fifth son of Samuel McMurray, schoolmaster, and Elizabeth Boden, his wife. He was educated at the Academical Institution and at Queen's University, graduating in 1910. He was appointed house surgeon at the Royal Southern Hospital, Liverpool and under the influence of Sir Robert Jones devoted himself to orthopaedic surgery. After serving as surgical tutor and registrar at the Royal Southern, he was during the war of 1914-18 surgeon to the Military Orthopaedic Hospital at Alder Hey and an inspector of orthopaedic hospitals in Ireland. He was then appointed to the surgical staff of the David Lewis Northern Hospital, Liverpool, and the Royal Liverpool Children's Hospital, and was made director of orthopaedics at the latter in 1919. He was lecturer in orthopaedic surgery at Liverpool University for many years and professor from 1940 to 1947. He was consultant in orthopaedics for the North of England under the Emergency Medical Service 1940-45, and was created CBE for his war service. McMurray, for all his eminence as an orthopaedist, remained an excellent general surgeon, and was also a skilled administrator. He was president of the British Orthopaedic Association 1940-41, president of the Liverpool Medical Institution 1948, and at the time of his death in 1949 president-elect of the British Medical Association for the Liverpool meeting in 1950. McMurray succeeded to the famous tradition and practice of Hugh Owen Thomas, whose life he wrote, and of Robert Jones; and his name appeared below theirs on the brass plate of 11 Nelson Street. This historic house with all his records and relics was destroyed in an air raid during May 1941. McMurray bore the loss stoically. He moved to 28 Rodney Street, and after his retirement in 1947 lived at Ystrad Cottage, Denbigh, North Wales.

McMurray was full of vitality and wit, but essentially reserved and unassuming. He had a boyish good humour, which endeared him to generations of his colleagues and students. His excellent tutorials were carried through without any parade of showmanship. He was a master of the surgery of the hip and knee joints, and modified Lorenz's osteotomy operation for un-united fracture of the neck of the femur. Problems of slowly uniting fractures interested him, and in later years his treatment become more and more conservative, and he was much interested in methods of rehabilitation. He retained his technical brilliance but operated less and less, and for the last twenty years never used screws, nails, or plates. He devised a new test for damaged semi-lunar cartilage. McMurray did not readily rush into print, but he made many valuable contributions the literature of orthopaedics, not the least being his deliberately small but not slight textbook, which reached a third edition in twelve years. McMurray was honoured with the title of emeritus on retirement from chair, and was among the first of the Edinburgh Fellows electedad eundem by the College in 1948. He was an honorary member of the American Australian, and French orthopaedic societies. McMurray married twice (1) in 1915 Dorothy, daughter of Squire Hill of Jordanstown, who died in 1936, leaving a son and daughter, Mrs Woodward; (2) in 1944 Winfred Nora, daughter of Ernest Evershed of Brighton. He died suddenly from a heart attack at Ealing Broadway station, London, on 16 November 1949, aged 61, while he was staying with his daughter, on his way to visit his son in South Africa. He was buried in Denbigh borough cemetery, and a memorial service was held at Liverpool Cathedral on 23 November.


The life of Hugh Owen Thomas. Lpl med-chir J 1935, 43, 3-41.
A practice of orthopaedic surgery. London, Arnold, 1937; 2nd edition, 1943; 3rd edition, 1949.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 18 November 1949 p7e and 24 November, memorial serivce; Brit med J 1949,2, 1236, with portrait and appreciations by Sir Henry Cohen FRCP, Sir Harry Platt VPRCS, Sir Reginald Watson-Jones FRCS, Bryan McFarland FRCS, K W Monsarrat FRCSEd, G W Girdlestone FRCS, p1299 by Sidney Pappworth MB, p1358 by E S A Ashe MB, and 1950, 2, 119, will; Lancet 1949, 2, 1017, with portrait and appreciations by Sir Reginald Watson-Jones and Sir Henry Cohen; J Bone Jt Surg 1949, 31B, 618, by Bryan McFarland and Sir Reginald Watson-Jones, with portrait; information from Mrs McMurray].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England