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Biographical entry Gray, Sir Archibald Montague Henry (1880 - 1967)

Kt 1946; KCVO 1950; CBE 1918; MRCS 1903; FRCS 1908; MB BS London 1903; MD 1905; FRCP 1918; LRCP 1903.

Ottery St Mary, Devon
13 October 1967


Archibald Gray was born at Ottery St Mary, Devon, the son of Frederick Archibald Gray MRCS (1872) in practice there; he was educated at Cheltenham College and then at University College and Hospital London. He graduated with honours in 1903 and proceeded to the MD with the University Gold Medal in 1905.

After holding resident posts at his own hospital which included house surgeon to Horsley and house physician to Rose Bradford and at the Hospital for Women in Soho Square, he early acquired a local fame as an able surgeon. He then proceeded to Vienna for a year in order to train as a dermatologist and on his return was appointed to the dermatological department at the University College Hospital, becoming ultimately consulting physician to that Hospital and to the Hospital for Sick Children.

The reason for this strange change may be traced to the fact that no forseeable vacancy in the gynaecological department presented, and this, at a time when the London teaching hospitals were more inbred than they now are, virtually debarred Gray from following up his surgical promise in his chosen field. At this juncture the department of dermatology at University College Hospital became vacant on the death of the famous Henry Radcliffe Crocker FRCP (1845-1909). It was generally believed at the hospital that Gray's ability and character persuaded some of his future colleagues to suggest to him that there could be a future for him at his old hospital.

In any event he returned from Vienna well equipped to carry the dermatological department (1909) and his later success in this new field justified the change and kept for University College Hospital a man who became one of its most loyal and devoted sons; and who served it in many ways including a period as Dean of the Medical School.

From the outset of his career Gray showed that medicine was not his only field of activity for he displayed administrative gifts and interests which were widely spread over all his professional life. He joined the Officers Training Corps (RAMC) and commanded the University College section. At the beginning of the first world war he was attached to the Medical Director-General's staff of the War Office with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and in 1918 was appointed consulting dermatologist to the BEF for the remainder of the war. He later became consultant adviser to the RAF, the Ministry of Health and to certain special hospitals of the LCC.

London University was the object of his prolonged interest and service. He was a member of the Senate for many years, being Deputy Vice-Chancellor (1938-39) and Dean of the Medical Faculty (1932-36). He also represented the University on the General Medical Council and served on several Government committees; including the committee on the medical service of the Navy, Army and Air Force (1931-33), on the Goodenough Committee (1942-44) and on a Ministry of Health survey of the Medical Schools of London (1945-46). From 1948-1962 he was adviser to the Ministry on dermatology. Particularly fruitful were his years of activity on the King Edward Seventh Hospital Fund.

His war work was rewarded by the CBE; he was knighted in 1946 and created KCVO for his work on the King Edward Seventh Hospital Fund in 1959. His eminence as a dermatologist also received recognition here and abroad, in honorary membership of numerous American dermatological societies and he was chosen Harveian Orator to the Royal College of Physicians in 1951. At the Royal Society of Medicine he was one of the honorary secretaries (1920-24), then honorary treasurer and lastly President (1940-43). Gray was secretary of the section of dermatology at the last general International Congress of Medicine (1913), a Vice-President of the 8th Congress of Dermatology (1930) and President of the 10th Congress in London (1952). He was for some years editor of the British journal of dermatology and a contributor to various textbooks.

The writer first knew Gray when he was regarded as a budding gynaecological surgeon and the sudden change in the direction of his work was a nine day wonder at the University College Hospital and its medical school. However he slipped into dermatology with characteristic competence and eagerness, habits which set the pattern for the rest of his life. He was easy in his relations, occasionally curt with the vague and the indecisive, but never hurtful, for he was without malice.

Gray was a man of small stature, his quiet face frequently lit up by a charming smile. He was kind to his patients and was prepared to take endless trouble for them for he remained a good physician despite his contacts with the world of administration.

Gray married in 1907 the daughter of F B Cooper of Newcastle, Staffs., and they had a son and a daughter. The disability of his last years was grievous for a man who remained actively intelligent, but he bore it with dignity, finally dying at his home, 7 Alvanley Gardens, NW6, after a long illness at the age of 87, on 13 October 1967. He was survived by his wife and children.

A memorial service was held at the Vincent Church, Gordon Square, on 14 November 1967.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Information from Sir F Walshe].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England