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Biographical entry Maxwell, John Preston (1871 - 1961)

MRCS 13 February 1896; FRCS 9 December 1897; LRCP 1896; FRCOG 1929; MB BS London 1898; MD 1910.

5 December 1871
25 July 1961
Brinkley, Cambridgeshire
Obstetrician and gynaecologist


Born in Birmingham on 5 December 1871, the son of James Laidlaw Maxwell MD Edinb, he received his medical education at University College School, London and St Bartholomew's Hospital, where he was a scholar and where at the London University final examination he obtained first place in the first class with a gold medal in surgery and a gold medal in obstetrics. After this he entered the mission field in China, working under the auspices of the English Presbyterian Missionary Society at Yung Chun and then at Yi Yuan. He made important researches into foetal rickets and osteomalacia among Chinese women, and did much to promote improvements in maternity care.

In 1919 he was invited by the Rockefeller Foundation to go to Peking as Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Peking Union Medical College, of which he later became Director, retiring in 1937. For his services the Chinese Government awarded him the Order of Splendid Jade, fourth class, and the Army and Navy Medal, first class.

On his return to England in 1939 he acted as consulting obstetrician and gynaecologist to Newmarket General Hospital during the second world war and for some years after it. He was a man of great skill and wisdom, humble, gentle, and generous. He was found dead in his car near his home at Brinkley, Cambs on 25 July 1961 aged 89; his wife, who had died before him, was an accomplished painter.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 26 and 28 July 1961; Lancet 1961, 2, 379 with eulogy by EWHC, and pp 608-609; Brit med J 1961, 2, 457-458 with eulogy by Prof Gordon King, pp 590-591 by Prof W C W Nixon, and p 654 by Prof N J Eastman of Johns Hopkins].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England