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Biographical entry Greeves, Reginald Affleck (1878 - 1966)

MRCS and FRCS 1906; BA Belfast 1900; MB London 1903; BS 1906; LRCP 1906.

23 August 1878
Springtown, County Down
4 October 1966
Curator, General practitioner, Ophthalmic surgeon and Pathologist


Born at Springtown, Co Down, on 23 August 1878, youngest of the eleven children of Thomas M. Greeves whose family, at first Quakers and later Plymouth Brethren, had been settled in Northern Ireland since the mid-seventeenth century. Affleck Greeves was educated at Queen's University, Belfast, where he won an exhibition, and at University College Hospital and Guy's, graduating MB London in 1903 and BS with honours in 1906, when he also took the Conjoint Diploma in the summer and the Fellowship in December.

For the next two years he was in general practice in the Transvaal, South Africa, where he married, in 1908, Sarah, daughter of Leonard Acutt of Natal. Returning to London he was appointed surgical tutor and registrar at Guy's, but decided to specialise in ophthalmology. After serving as pathologist and curator of the museum at the Royal London Ophthalmic Hospital (Moorfields), he was appointed assistant ophthalmic surgeon to the Middlesex Hospital in 1914 and to Moorfields in 1915. He became a consultant surgeon to both these hospitals, retiring from Moorfields at the sixty-year age limit in 1938, but from the Middlesex only in 1946. He had also been on the staff at Paddington Green Children's Hospital and at St Saviour's Hospital, had lectured on ophthalmology at Oxford, and was a Conjoint Board examiner for the DOMS.

Though somewhat nervous and reserved, Greeves was a brilliant diagnostician, achieved excellent results as a surgeon, and proved a first-class teacher, particularly in clinical work with graduate students. He became an authority on lesions of the fundus, whose opinion was sought and valued by colleagues and former students long after his retirement. He published influential papers on ocular pathology and many case histories, particularly in the Transactions of the Ophthalmological Society, of which he was a member for fifty-five years, becoming President for 1941-42. He was Montgomery Lecturer at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in 1935.

Greeves carried on a large private practice at 23 Wimpole Street long after giving up his hospital work, finally retiring in 1960 when he was eighty-two. His country home was at Crapstone, near Yelverton, in Devonshire. His wife had died in 1954, and he died on 4 October 1966 aged eighty-eight, survived by his daughter and two sons, the elder of whom was also an ophthalmic surgeon.

Though brought up in a narrowly puritanical home, Greeves was a man of wide cultivation, a traveller and linguist, a pianist and trained musician, with a keen appreciation of painting and drawing. His students and patients became his lifelong friends.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 6 October 1966 and 10th an appreciation by HR; Lancet 1966, 2, 956 by AJBG with portrait, and eulogy by VP; Brit J Ophthalm 1966, 50, 744].

The Royal College of surgeons of England