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Biographical entry Pybus, Frederick Charles (1883 - 1975)

MRCS 1909; FRCS 1909; MB BS Durham 1906; MS 1910; DCL Newcastle 1966; LRCP 1909.

2 November 1883
10 March 1975
General surgeon


Frederick Charles Pybus was born on 2 November 1883 in Stockton-on-Tees and graduated in medicine from the Newcastle College of Medicine of Durham University in 1906. He was house surgeon to Rutherford Morison and in 1910 worked with Ernest Miles at the Gordon Hospital, London. He served in Mesopotamia during the first world war as a Major, RAMC. He became surgeon to the Fleming Memorial Hospital for Sick Children and was appointed to the honorary staff of the Royal Victoria Infirmary in 1920 as an honorary surgeon. He retired in 1944 at the age of 60 and was then made consultant to the General Hospital, at that time the Municipal Hospital. In 1942 he had been appointed Professor of Surgery in Durham University. During the second world war he was co-ordinator of the emergency medical hospital services in the Northern Region, and in 1948 at the inception of the NHS became adviser to the regional hospital board.

Pybus was trained in an era of surgical giants when only a few confined their activities to single systems, and he became one of the great general surgeons with an international reputation, operating with equal facility on the throat, nose, and ear, the central nervous system and thorax. His early contributions were in paediatrics and orthopaedic surgery, but later malignant disease became his main interest and he did much fundamental research on cancer, financed at first by himself and later supported by the British Empire Cancer Campaign. He was a keen and stimulating teacher and a strict disciplinarian, but humane, considerate, and charming with patients. An active member of many medical societies, he was also a Hunterian Professor of the Royal College of Surgeons and a past President of the North-East Surgical Society. In 1966 he received the honorary degree of doctor of civil law from the University of Newcastle- upon-Tyne.

During some 30 years Pybus assembled a collection of medical books of extraordinary richness, rarity, and importance. It establishes him firmly in the fine tradition of great collecting by medical men. He knew Vesalius and Albinus, Harvey and Hunter, as well as he knew his colleagues, and he revelled in their company. A day with him, surrounded by his books, paintings, and engravings, was an unforgettable experience. His presentation of this great collection to the University Library of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1965, despite enticements from home and abroad, was to put his greatest love into the safe keeping of the institution he served so well. Pybus was a bachelor, a somewhat lonely man who outlived his colleagues but had a few very loyal friends. He died on 10 March 1975, aged 91 years.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1975, 1, 742].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England