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Biographical entry Simpson, Graham Scales (1874 - 1939)

MRCS 27 July 1899; FRCS 20 June 1901; LDS 1896.

17 September 1874
19 February 1939
General surgeon


Born at Brighton on 17 September 1874, the fourth son and eighth and youngest child of Thomas Simpson, architect, and Clara Hart, his wife. One son, C S Simpson, MRCS, was in general practice at Brighton (Lancet, 1948, 1, 733); and the other two were architects, one of whom, Sir John Simpson, became president of the RIBA. He was educated at Bishop's Stortford College, Herts, and entered the dental school at Guy's Hospital in 1894 with a scholarship in arts. Here he served as dental house surgeon and then, turning his attention to medicine, qualified MRCS and was appointed a house surgeon and afterwards a surgical registrar at Guy's Hospital.

In 1903 he became resident medical officer to the Royal Hospital, Sheffield, where on 3 May 1906 he was elected assistant surgeon, becoming surgeon on 16 June 1909, and resigning on 17 September 1934 on attaining the age limit of 60. At the University of Sheffield he was tutor in surgery, 1908-1909, lecturer on operative surgery, 1909-19, lecturer on surgery, 1919-30, and professor of surgery, 1930-34.

During the war he organized and was chief surgical resident officer of the Wharncliffe War Hospital, with the rank of temporary captain, and afterwards major, RAMC(T), from May 1915 to July 1920; twelve months of this period were spent in 1916-17 at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley, as resident surgeon. At the Royal College of Surgeons he was a member of the Court of Examiners, 1925-30, an examiner in dental surgery, surgical section, 1926, a member of the Council, 1929-39, and Bradshaw lecturer elect for 1939. His sudden death prevented the delivery of the lecture, the subject of which was to have been "Congenital abnormalities of the kidney".

At the British Medical Association he was secretary of the surgical section at the Sheffield meeting in 1908. He was, too, president of the Sheffield Medico-Chirurgical Society in 1903, having previously served as secretary. At the Barnsley Beckett Hospital, the Bakewell Cottage Hospital, and the Rampton State Institution he did much good work as consulting surgeon.

During the last three years of his life Simpson suffered from two serious illnesses, which he bore complacently and from which he recovered completely. He was severely burnt by an explosion in his operating theatre and some months afterwards underwent an operation for an actinomycotic abscess in the lung. He died suddenly and without pain, after a short attack of dyspnoea, early on Sunday morning, 19 February 1939. He married Gwenneth West, the eldest daughter of George Henry West-Jones, MRCS, on 28 June 1911. She survived him with a son, a lieutenant serving with HM Forces in Palestine, and a daughter who graduated at the University of Cambridge, after gaining a first-class in the Natural Sciences Tripos in 1937.

Graham Simpson as a surgeon was dexterous, resolute, imperturbable, and unhurried. He devoted himself more particularly, but not exclusively, to urology. As a teacher he was excellent, for he taught what would be useful to his pupils in their after life as practitioners, and as an examiner he tried to discover what they knew rather than of what they were ignorant. As a colleague he was friendly and clubbable, enjoying to the full the gatherings of the Moynihan Chirurgical Club in foreign travel, and the meetings of the College Council Club at home. As a man he was highly cultivated, with a wide knowledge of the classical English and French writers.

Angeioma of the kidney. Proc Roy Soc Med 1926-27, 20, 728.
Carcinoma of the kidney. Brit J Surg 1933-34, 21, 388-397.
Dietl's crises. Med Press, 1937, 195, 203.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Lancet, 1939, 1, 486 and 547; Brit med J 1939, 1, 177, with portrait; Med Press, 1939, 198,245; Brit J Surg 1939, 26, 922, with portrait; Dent Rec 1939, 59, 211; information given by Mrs Simpson; personal knowledge].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England