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Biographical entry Taylor, Edward Ernest Thurlow (1910 - 1971)

MRCS 1940; FRCS 1941; MA Oxford; BM BCh 1941; MCh 1947; LRCP 1940.

3 February 1910
Bolton, Lancashire
9 September 1971
General surgeon


Edward Ernest Thurlow Taylor was born in Bolton, Lancashire on 3 February, 1910. He was the younger son of Herbert Taylor, a cotton manufacturer, and of Edith Taylor (née Thurlow). His early life was varied and interesting. He was educated at Cheltenham College, and went from there to Balliol College, Oxford. He did not at this stage contemplate a career in medicine. Instead he read first mathematics and later law, gaining an honour's degree in jurisprudence in 1931. From 1931 to 1934 he was articled to a firm of chartered surveyors in London. Just before he was due to take his final examination in accountancy he was offered a post in the Colonial Service in Nyasaland. This he accepted and travelled to Africa in 1934.

At about this time, however, he developed acute appendicitis and his appendectomy gave him his first glimpse of hospital work. From this point he became increasingly convinced that his future lay not in accountancy but in medicine. In 1935 he resigned his post in Nyasaland, returned to London, and started his medical training at St Thomas's Hospital. He qualified in 1940 (MRCS LRCP and BM BCh Oxon) and after only 8 or 9 months in house posts, he joined the RNVR, rising later to the rank of Surgeon Lieutenant-Commander, and while serving in the Navy he took the FRCS in 1941. In June 1944 he took part in the invasion of Normandy. After demobilization in 1945 he held registrar and first assistant posts in general surgery at St Thomas's Hospital and St George's Hospital, and in 1947 gained the degree of master of surgery in the University of Oxford. In August 1948, his training completed, Edward Taylor was appointed honorary assistant surgeon at Northampton General Hospital.

In Northampton his reputation, based as it was upon clinical reliability, a meticulous surgical technique, and unshakable integrity, was soon established, and he quickly became a greatly respected member of the hospital staff. He was relied upon by all. He was a true general surgeon with interests in widely differing fields. He found himself equally at home in abdominal surgery, in genito-urinary work, and in thyroid surgery. Later he showed his ability to absorb technical advances by his mastery of arterial surgery. By nature a practical rather than a theoretical surgeon, his publications were few, but in 1943 he contributed a review of Crohn's disease to the Postgraduate medical journal and in 1959 wrote on duodenal megabulbus and annular pancreas in the British journal of surgery.

Though his modesty made him a reluctant hospital politician, his integrity ensured him positions of responsibility. In 1962, as a continuing demand for postgraduate medical education swept the country, a clinical tutorship was established at Northampton General Hospital. It was almost inevitable that Edward Taylor should be the first to hold this post, and it was he, therefore, who laid the foundation of Northampton's postgraduate activities. It fell to him, too, to make an immense, but typically unostentatious contribution to the successful planning of the Cripps Postgraduate Medical Centre, which was so soon to transform the medical life of the town. An enthusiastic member of the British Medical Association, he was Chairman of the Northampton Branch in 1966, and was elected a Fellow of the BMA in 1967. At the time of his death he was also Chairman of the Surgical Division at Northampton General Hospital, and President-Elect of the Northampton Medical Society.

Edward Taylor had many interests outside surgery. He was an enthusiastic sportsman, playing lawn tennis and squash racquets very well indeed. Later he fell under the spell of mountaineering, spending much of his spare time climbing in North Wales, in the Alps, and in Spain. It was typical of the man that, finding a knowledge of Spanish useful on climbing holidays in Andalucia, he should have taken and passed an examination in that language at the age of 58. In 1965 his mountaineering achievements were recognised by his election to membership of the Alpine Club. Though he rarely mentioned it, this was an honour of which he was understandably proud.

In his later years Edward Taylor had the misfortune to develop diabetes, and characteristically he managed his own treatment with great skill and with the minimum of guidance. He never for one moment allowed the disorder to interfere with any of his activities, professional, social or athletic. Indeed, many of his closest colleagues and friends, of which he had many, were quite unaware of his handicap.

In 1938 Edward Taylor married Miss Beryl Mary Hinde, and they had two children, Susan who qualified as a doctor in 1964, and William who works in the Civil Service. Susan Taylor later married Mr Glenn Neil-Dwyer, a young surgeon who in 1972 was working as senior registrar in neurosurgery at Southampton General Hospital. When he died on 9 September 1971 his wife and family survived him.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1971, 3, 709; 774. Lancet 1971, 2, 714].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England