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Biographical entry Pringle, James Hogarth (1863 - 1941)

MRCS 2 August 1888; FRCS 9 June 1892; MB Edinburgh 1885; FRFPS Glasgow 1899.

26 January 1863
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
24 April 1941
Killearn, Stirlingshire
General surgeon


Born 26 January 1863 at Parramatta, Sydney, NSW, the eldest child and only son of George Hogarth Pringle, MD, FRCS Ed, and Annie Oakes Byrnes, his wife. For an account of G H Pringle (1833-72) see A Logan Turner's Joseph, Baron Lister, centenary volume, Edinburgh, 1927, pages 176-177, and photograph of the residents at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in 1854, including Lister and Pringle. J H Pringle was educated at Sedbergh School and at Edinburgh University, where he graduated in 1885. After studying at Hamburg, Berlin, and Vienna, where he formed lifelong friendships with Anton von Eiselsberg and Carl Lauenstein, he served as house surgeon and clinical assistant in the gynaecological ward at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and house surgeon at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary. Here in 1888, the year in which he took the Membership, he assisted Sir William Macewen in his pathological work, and subsequently became assistant surgeon under him. He took the Fellowship in 1892, and was elected surgeon to the Royal Infirmary, Glasgow in 1896. In 1899 he was elected a Fellow of the Glasgow Faculty, and its Visitor in 1923, in which year he became consulting surgeon to the Infirmary on his retirement. During the war of 1914-18 Pringle served at No 4 Scottish General Hospital at Stobhill, with a commission as major, RAMC(T), dated 3 July 1908. He was for many years lecturer in surgery and demonstrator of anatomy at Queen Margaret College for women students in Glasgow University. He married on 30 April 1917 Ethelmay Christie, who survived him, but they had no children. He died at Whiteflat, Killearn, Stirlingshire on 24 April 1941, aged 78.

Pringle was a reserved man, with a somewhat hard and downright manner hiding his essential humanity. While a clinical surgeon of the first rank, he was at heart a scientist and experimenter. He was a thorough operator, with a delicate touch and mechanical skill, and had deep knowledge of anatomy and pathology. Though he had no ambition for the limelight, his worth was appreciated by his colleagues. He was an original member of the Association of Surgeons and of the Moynihan Chirurgical Club. His writings cover a wide range of topics and record much original observation. He devised new operations for umbilical and inguinal hernia. His work on vein-grafting for the maintenance of direct arterial circulation attracted attention, as did his demonstration with Professor J H Teacher before the Glasgow Royal Medico-chirurgical Society of post-mortem digestion of the oesophagus. In 1908 he was engaged on pioneer work in the treatment of melanotic sarcoma, and early in the twentieth century he successfully transplanted animal urethra to replace excised strictures. To the Association of Surgeons he demonstrated a new operation to save sight, in cases of haemorrhage into the optic nerve due to injury in the temporo-frontal region. At the time of his death he was working over his early studies of the mechanism of dislocation of the hip. Pringle was a regular reader in the library of the College, though latterly his visits to London were infrequent. Subject to his wife's life-rent, he left the residue of his property to found a Hogarth Pringle scholarship or scholarships at Edinburgh University, for post-graduate research in surgery at any school approved by the Edinburgh professor of clinical surgery, in memory of his father and mother. He left his portraits of his father and of Sir William Macewen to the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh with possession to his wife for her life. (Weekly Scotsman, 11 October 1941, communicated by Prof Grey Turner.)

Repair of the uretha by transplantation of the urethra of animals. Ann Surg 1904, 40,387-397.
Remarks on the treatment of empyema. Brit med J 1905, 1, 809.
Notes on the arrest of hepatic haemorrhage due to trauma. Ann Surg 1908, 48, 541-549.
A method of operation in cases of melanotic tumours of the skin. Edin med J 1908, 23, 496.
Fractures and their treatment. London, 1910.
A method of treating umbilical hernia. Edin med J 1913, 10, 493.
Two cases of vein-grafting for the maintenance of a direct arterial circulation. Lancet, 1913, 1, 1795.
Digestion of the oesophagus as a cause of post-operative haematemesis, with J H Teacher. Brit J Surg 1918-19, 6, 523-536.
Cutaneous melanoma: two cases alive 30 and 38 years after operation. Lancet, 1937, 1, 508.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1941, 1, 734, with portrait and eulogy by G Grey Turner, FRCS; Glas med J 1941, 135, 153, with portrait, a good likeness; Lancet, 1941, 1, 651, information from Mrs Pringle; personal knowledge].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England