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Biographical entry Pearson, Maurice Grey (1872 - 1952)

OBE 1919; MRCS 9 May 1895; FRCS 9 December 1897; BSc London 1892; MB 1895; LRCP 1895.

20 March 1872
13 May 1952
General surgeon and Orthopaedic surgeon


Born on 20 March 1872, the third child and second son of William George Pearson, civil engineer, and his wife Emma Hind, he was educated at University College School and St Bartholomew's Hospital, where he won the Harvey prize and served as house surgeon and ophthalmic house surgeon. He graduated in science in 1892 and qualified in 1895 with honours in forensic medicine.

He emigrated to South Africa in 1901, and served as district surgeon and railway medical officer at Alicedale, Cape Province. A year later he joined W Addison at Durban, where he carried on a large general practice including surgery and ophthalmology for the rest of his career, interrupted only by war service. Later he took Dr A D Edington and his son Dr Lawrence Pearson FRCS into the partnership.

He went on military service during the Zulu rebellion of 1906, and at the beginning of the 1914-18 war he was put in charge of a surgical team at Richmond, South-West Africa. Later he was officer in charge of the surgical unit at the South African military hospital at Abbeville, France. Here he made his mark, with the support of Sir Anthony Bowlby and Sir Robert Jones, by promoting a great improvement in the treatment of compound fractures of the femur, successfully reducing the excessive mortality, and was later given charge of the "femur hospital" at Edmonton. Pearson's method attracted the admiration of American orthopaedic surgeons, and he published a record of his work. He was mentioned in dispatches, created OBE in the military division, and promoted brevet Lieutenant-Colonel.

Pearson retired from his practice at Durban in 1936, but took it up again in 1940, when his son went on active service. He also acted during the war of 1939-45 as surgeon in charge of auxiliary military hospitals in the Durban area. He was senior visiting surgeon at the Addington Hospital 1927-36, and subsequently consulting surgeon. He served as President of the Natal coastal branch of the South African Medical Association, and of the South African Medical Congress when it met at Durban. He was senior officer and Colonel of the 1st Field Ambulance of the South African Army Medical Corps. He was chairman of the Natal Cripples Care Association; he founded the Natal Radium Trust, collected a large fund for it, and became its chairman.

Pearson's recreations were photography and gardening; he was a keen member of the Durban cine club. He designed and built his own beautiful house The Homestead, and presented his collection of orchids to the botanical gardens. He was a man of energy, enthusiasm, and integrity, but also of generosity and kindness, often providing shelter for human derelicts. He was well-read and a good speaker.

Pearson married twice: (1) in 1898 Agnes Hunt a St Bartholomew's nurse, who died in 1942 leaving a son Dr Lawrence V Pearson, who succeeded to his father's practice; (2) in 1942 Dorothy Ballam, who survived him. He died suddenly at his home on 13 May 1952 aged 80.
A bed and some appliances for gunshot wounds of the femur and back. Brit med J 1918, 2, 186.
Fractured femurs, their treatment by calliper extension, with J Drummond. Oxford 1919, 104 pages.

Sources used to compile this entry: [SA med J 1952, 26, 532 by HG-W, abstracted in St Bart's Hosp J 1952, 56, 501; information from his son L V Pearson FRCS and his sister Miss M E Pearson].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England