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Biographical entry Whigham, John Richard Menzies (1891 - 1963)

MC; MRCS 31 July 1913; FRCS 5 December 1928; LRCP 1913; MB BS London 1913; MS 1929.

3 February 1963
General surgeon


John Whigham was born in Brook Street, London, and educated at Westminster City School, where he won the gold medal as the best pupil of his year and a scholarship to St Mary's Hospital. He qualified in 1913 at the age of 21.

He joined the East Lancashire Regiment at the outbreak of the first world war, and was wounded by a bullet through the chest at Ypres, and gassed on the Somme. He was awarded the Military Cross and mentioned in dispatches on three occasions for dedication to duty under fire. He was also made an honorary colonel of his regiment.

On returning to civilian life Whigham decided to specialise in surgery, and held appointments at the Miller, Mile End, and Waterloo Hospitals. He was appointed superintendent and consultant surgeon to St Andrew's Hospital, Bow, in 1930, where his outstanding administrative abilities were quickly recognised. He had much to do in that large hospital, besides his surgical duties, creating many new special departments and moulding them into an efficient, comprehensive hospital. He was also surgeon to St George's-in-the-East Hospital.

Among his many interests were the London County Medical Society, which he founded, becoming its first president, and the Third Thursday Club, which did much to foster a close relationship between general practitioners and his hospitals. During the second world war he was medical officer, with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, to the 11th Company of the London Battalion KRR Home Guard.

When he retired in 1956 he concentrated on teaching and coaching for the Fellowship. He also gave time to the Red Cross and St John Ambulance Brigade, lecturing and examining. Though fond of his Essex country cottage and garden, he preferred to spend much of his time teaching surgery in London.

Whigham was an austere man and a disciplinarian. Painting in oils and water-colours was one of his pastimes, while at the Doctors' Hobby Exhibition he used to enter unusual specimens, garnered on beachcombing expeditions and mounted. He was a generous donor of books to the library of the College.

He married in 1937 Hildegard Christopherson, who survived him with their only son John. John Whigham lived at 26a Eaton Terrace, SW1, and died on 3 February 1963 aged 72.

Alkali poisoning in a case of gastric ulcer, Brit J Surg. 1941, 28, 504.
Severe burns associated with duodenal ulceration, Brit J Surg. 1942, 30, 178.
Salient features of acute abdominal disorders, Medical World 1946.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J. 1964, 1, 441 with appreciation by GAB; Lancet 1964, 1, 390 with appreciation by JEP].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England