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Biographical entry Farquharson, Eric Leslie (1905 - 1970)

MRCS and FRCS 1943; MB ChB Edinburgh 1928; MD 1932; FRCS Ed 1931.

13 December 1905
8 December 1970
Anatomist and General surgeon


Eric Farquharson was born on 13 December 1905, the only son of William Anderson Farquharson, SSC, and Agnes Ness Cowie. A paternal great-grandfather, grandfather and two uncles were medically qualified. He was educated at Edinburgh Academy and the University of Edinburgh. Postgraduate studies followed in Paris, Vienna and Heidelberg.

After graduation he spent one year as house surgeon in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, of which six months was spent in the wards under the charge of the late W J Stewart, who was to have a great influence upon him. Later, junior appointments at Kirkcaldy Hospital and Leicester Royal Infirmary were followed in 1933 by a return to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh as clinical tutor in the charge of Mr W J Stewart, where he remained for five years completing his surgical training.

In 1938 he was appointed temporary assistant surgeon, and on his return after war service he was appointed in 1946 to what was then called assistant surgeon to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. In 1947 he was appointed honorary consultant surgeon to the Royal Infirmary at Berwick-on-Tweed. Between 1952 and 1960 he served as visiting consultant surgeon to the Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy. In 1959 he was appointed as surgeon "in administrative charge of wards" in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

He served in the RAMC in the second world war from 1939-1945 attaining the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel as officer in charge of a surgical division. His service began at Edinburgh Castle and took him to the Orkney Islands, to East Africa, Ceylon and India.

He served on the Court of Examiners from 1951-57, and on the Council from 1966 until his death. He took particular pleasure in the fact that he served contemporaneously on the Council of both English and Edinburgh Colleges. In October 1968 he was elected Vice-President of the Edinburgh College, continuing to serve on the Council of the College.

In his courtesy to all and his great attention to patient care, he consciously modelled himself on W J Stewart, whose house surgeon and whose tutor he had been. He had a considerable inventive gift displayed in a variety of surgical instruments. Surgical skill was perhaps reflected in his hobby of handcraft, and a great gift in the distillation and presentation of knowledge.

Prominent among his interests was the training of surgeons and in this his memorial certainly lies in his Textbook of operative surgery, the first edition of which was published in 1954 and the fifth edition was in preparation at the time of his death. He was a lecturer in applied anatomy at the University of Edinburgh. He was an examiner in surgery at the Universities of Edinburgh, Cambridge, and Birmingham. He took an active part in the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland and in the Moynihan Club.

In June 1940 he married Elizabeth McWatt, also a medical graduate of the University of Edinburgh, the sister, daughter, niece and grand-daughter of doctors, whose father had practiced in Duns, Berwickshire, for a period of almost sixty years. They had two daughters - the eldest of whom, Margaret, is qualified in medicine and working for her Fellowship. He died on 8 December 1970 from cancer of the colon, after an illness lasting many months, the knowledge of which he kept to himself, and during which he continued for most of the time to look after patients.

Textbook of operative surgery. 1954, and later editions.
Problems of the chronic duodenal ulcer without stenosis. Brit med J 1953, 1, 144-7. Doubts and misgivings about the treatment of duodenal ulcer. Lancet 1956, 2, 849-51.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 10 December 1970; Brit med J 1970, 4, 807].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England