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Biographical entry Turney, Horace George (1860 - 1944)

OBE 1919; MRCS 2 August 1888; FRCS 12 June 1890; MB BCh Oxford 1888; MCh 1890; MA MD 1897; LRCP 1888; MRCP 1891; FRCP 1898.

28 October 1860
26 February 1944


Born at Denmark Hill, London, SE on 28 October 1860, younger son and youngest of the four children of George Leonard Turney, needle and pin manufacturer, and Anna Neeve, his second wife. He was educated at Dulwich College and at Trinity College, Oxford. While at Oxford he had a severe attack of scarlet fever, and by way of convalescence went a voyage to Australia. He stayed in Queensland for a year's sheep farming and almost decided to stay permanently. But returning home he started to study medicine, several years later than the normal, at St Thomas's Hospital, with which he remained closely connected for nearly sixty years. Though at first intending to be a surgeon, he changed to the physicians' side, for he felt the aptitudes of a scholar rather than of a craftsman. He had taken the Oxford Mastership and the English Fellowship two years after qualifying, but the following year he took the MRCP and was soon elected to the medical teaching staff at St Thomas's, where he was resident assistant physician 1891-93, after serving as house surgeon and house physician, and having won the Mead medal in medicine and pathology. He duly rose to be assistant physician (1893) and then physician, and on his retirement in 1920 he was elected consulting physician and later a governor, and served on the grand committee and as almoner. Though he had a large private practice Turney's main interest was in the hospital. As assistant physician he created the department for diseases of the peripheral nervous system. He was always a general physician, but his strong leaning towards neurology led to his presidency of the section of neurology at the Royal Society of Medicine, which he addressed on "Vasomotor neuroses".

He took active interest in the administration of the Hospital's Medical School, serving twice as dean, and was the best teacher of good pupils, but not so successful in coaching less well-equipped men. He was much interested in the Nightingale Nurses' Training College, to which he was physician, and was at one time chairman of the Nurses' Co-operative Guild. He served as physician to the United Kingdom Temperance Insurance Office, and succeeded his colleague Sir Seymour Sharkey, FRCS (1847-1929) as medical referee to H M Treasury. During the first world war he served at the 2nd London General Hospital, with the rank of captain à la suite, having been commissioned on 23 December 1908, on the formation of the Territorial Force, RAMC. He was created OBE (military) for his services. At the Royal College of Physicians, Turney served on the council 1915-17, as an examiner 1916-20, and as a censor in 1921, 1922, and 1924. He also examined in medicine for Liverpool University.

Turney married in 1896 Margaret Ferguson, who had been Sister of Charity Ward at St Thomas's; she survived him with two sons and a daughter; another daughter had died in infancy. One son, Dr Horace Ferguson Turney, DM, MRCP, was serving as a major in the RAMC at the time of his father's death. Turney practised in Portland Place and later at 7 Park Square West, where he died on 26 February 1944, aged 83. He bequeathed £1,000 to St Thomas's Hospital to endow a bed. He was a tall man with a pale face and heavy, drooping moustache. He played no games and his only exercise was an occasional stroll in Regent's Park, though in early life he had been an active bicyclist. Turney was as big in character as in physique, cool in judgment and courteous in manner, but alert in mind and with an engaging humour. He was keenly interested in church architecture, which he studied on many visits to Italy and in his holidays at home; being an expert photographer he made beautiful records of the buildings which he admired. He usually visited Italy in the spring, and took an English country-house, where he entertained his friends, in the summer.

The trophoneuroses. Allbutt's System of medicine, London, 1909.
Vasomotor neuroses. Proc Roy Soc Med, presidential address to neurological section, 1915, 8, 1-26.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times, 1 March 1944, p 7e; Lancet, 1944, 1, 423, with portrait; Brit med J 1944, 1, 436, with eulogy by Sir Farquhar Buzzard, KCVO, FRCP; St Thos Hosp Gaz 1944, 42, 72, with portrait, eulogy by Alfred Ernest Russell, FRCP, who died 26 March 1944 before this eulogy was published; further information given by his son, Major H F Turney, DM, RAMC].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England