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Biographical entry Paterson, Herbert John (1867 - 1940)

CBE 1920; MRCS 10 November 1892; FRCS 10 June 1897; BA Cambridge 1892; MA MB BCh 1893; MCh 1910; MD 1925; LRCP 1892.

10 March 1867
31 May 1940
General surgeon


Born at Glasgow, 10 March 1867, the first surviving child of the Rev Hugh Sinclair Paterson, a minister of the Free Kirk of Scotland, who was admitted a Doctor of Medicine by the University of Glasgow in 1863, and Katherine Maria Anderson, his wife. He was educated at King's College, London, at Lausanne, and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was a foundation exhibitioner and graduated BA. At St Bartholomew's Hospital he gained the senior entrance scholarship in natural science and, after qualifying, was appointed an assistant resident anaesthetist. In this position his inherent obstinacy failed to please his colleagues, who unceremoniously "ducked" him in the hospital fountain.

He was appointed house surgeon to the National Temperance Hospital in 1893, became assistant surgeon in 1901, surgeon in 1913, and emeritus surgeon on his resignation in 1934. During his period as assistant surgeon he instituted and organized an out-patient department at the Hospital. At the Royal College of Surgeons of England he gained the Jacksonian prize in 1904, and two years later he was a Hunterian professor of surgery.

He was examiner in surgery to the Universities of Glasgow and Cambridge, consulting surgeon to the Ministry of Pensions Hospital, and during the war of 1914-18 was honorary surgeon in charge of Queen Alexandra's Hospital for Officers, and afterwards surgeon to King Edward VII Hospital for Officers. Other activities included the honorary medical secretaryship of the Royal British Nurses' Association and a long period of service on behalf of the Fellowship of Medicine, as honorary secretary, 1919-31, and as chairman of the executive committee 1931-40, his interest in postgraduate education dating back to long before the establishment of the Hammersmith School.

He married on 13 July 1910 Tempe Langrish, daughter of G H Faber, MP for Boston, Lincolnshire. She survived him but without children. He died at Glasgow on 31 May 1940, after having lived at The Whins, Berkhamsted, Herts. He left £1,000 to Trinity College, Cambridge, for an annual Paterson medal and exhibition to a medical student, and £500 to the Medical College of St Bartholomew's Hospital.

Paterson was a pioneer in postgraduate teaching; a man of pleasing personality, cultivated mind, and modest demeanour. Throughout his life he was a total abstainer from alcohol, and an excellent conjuror. His reminiscences were published posthumously.

Diagnosis and treatment of such affections of the stomach as are amenable to surgical interference. Jacksonian prize essay, RCS, 1904.
W J Waisham. Handbook of surgical pathology, 4th edition, by H J Paterson, London, 1904.
Gastric surgery. Hunterian lectures, RCS, 1906.
Jejunal and gastrojejunal ulcer following gastrojejunostomy. Ann Surg 1909, 50, 367-440.
Appendicular gastralgia. Lancet, 1910, 1, 708.
The surgery of the stomach. London, 1913; 2nd edition, 1914.
Indigestion, its differential diagnosis and treatment. London, 1929.
A surgeon looks back. London, 1941.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Autobiography, with portrait; Lancet, 1940, 1, 1030, with portrait; Brit med J 1940, 1, 913, with portrait; information from Mrs Paterson; personal knowledge].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England