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Biographical entry Gray, Arthur Oliver (1889 - 1978)

LDSRCS 1911; MRCS 1913; FRCS 1915; MD Durham 1930; MRCP Ed 1919; FRCP Ed 1930; MRCOG foundation 1929; FRCOG 1937; LRCP 1913.

19 February 1889
20 March 1978
Kingston Gorse, Sussex
Obstetrician and gynaecologist and Pathologist


Arthur Oliver Gray was born on 19 February 1889 at Gateshead and was educated at Barnard Castle School and Durham University. He wanted to be an engineer, like his father, but it was thought that he was not robust enough for this. The family was not well off and no grants were then available, but Gray went to the Royal Dental Hospital and qualified as a dentist in 1911. He then obtained a scholarship to the Middlesex Hospital Medical School, where he won the senior Brodrip Scholarship and the Lyell Gold Medal and scholarship and qualified with the Conjoint Diploma in 1913. After the usual house jobs he became the first resident anaesthetist at the Middlesex, having to anaesthetise desperately ill patients -'Like being flung in at the deep end,' he said. He then took a resident post at the City of London Maternity Hospital. During the first world war he joined the Royal Navy as a surgeon, serving at Haslar Hospital and later was in charge of the surgical section of the Hospital Ship China with the Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow.

After demobilization he became obstetric registrar and tutor at the Middlesex for three and a half years, and he started the first antenatal clinic at the hospital. He was also pathologist to the City of London Maternity Hospital. In 1932 he joined the staff of Charing Cross Hospital, becoming senior obstetric physician in 1938. He had previously been appointed consultant gynaecologist to St Charles's, the Miller, and Hampstead General Hospitals, and he had an extensive private practice.

Arthur Gray was a skilful and safe surgeon, but he always said that his favourite hospital occupation was undergraduate teaching. During the second world war he was for a time resident surgeon at Hampstead General Hospital in the Emergency Medical Service, but he continued to teach the students at Charing Cross Hospital and became Vice-Dean during the war. He was a founder member of the College of Obstetricians and became a Fellow in 1937. He served on the Hospital Recognition Committee from 1947 to 1952 and became its Chairman. His main hobby was playing the organ, and he was Vice-President of the Stock Exchange Orchestral Society for many years. When he lived at Rye he built an observatory with a six-inch refracting telescope to study astronomy. In many ways he was a shy, retiring sort of man, but of exceptional kindliness, which, together with his skill as a surgeon, brought him fame and happiness.

In 1917 he married Lillah Agnes Till and they had one daughter. He died on 20 March 1978 at Kingston Gorse, Sussex, aged 89.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1978, 1, 994].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England