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Biographical entry Gilmour, John (1893 - 1985)

MRCS 1919; FRCS 1920; MB BS Durham 1918; MS 1922; FACS 1962; LRCP 1919.

1 December 1893
Cowdenbeath, Fife, Scotland
1 July 1985
Kingston, Jamaica
Orthopaedic surgeon


John Gilmour, the eldest of the three children of the Rev. James Gilmour, a Presbyterian minister, and of Annie Campbell (née Brown), was born in Cowdenbeath, Fife, Scotland, on 1 December 1893. As a result of his father's varied domicile he was educated at Cowdenbeath Board School; the High School, Dunfermline; Gateshead-on-Tyne Secondary School, and the Royal Grammar School, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He later proceeded to the University of Durham College of Medicine and the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle, where he graduated in 1918. His medical studies were interrupted during the first two years of the first world war while he served as a noncommissioned officer in the Northumbrian Division (TA) casualty clearing station in Flanders. He was demobilised with the rank of Sergeant in 1916 to return to Newcastle. During those wartime years, both before and after qualification, he held a number of resident appointments and served in the RAMC special reserve from 1918 to 1919. Demobilised again, as Captain, he became demonstrator of anatomy and then honorary surgical registrar at the Royal Infirmary from 1920 to 1925; honorary assistant surgeon 1925 to 1937, and honorary surgeon from 1937 to 1958. Together with those appointments he served as a clinical teacher and demonstrator of operative surgery.

During his long period in Newcastle, John Gilmour also worked at the Fleming Memorial Hospital for Sick Children, the Thomas Knight Memorial Hospital, Blyth, and the W J Sanderson Orthopaedic Hospital, Gosforth. Throughout the second world war he served in the Emergency Medical Service at Newcastle General Hospital, and in hospitals at Shotley Bridge and Middlesbrough. He became President of the Durham University Medical Society, the Newcastle and Northern Counties Medical Society, and the North of England Surgical Society. After the war, in the early years of the NHS, he was Chairman of the Newcastle Regional Consultants' and Specialists' Committee. Throughout his time in Newcastle he was one of the best known and most respected consultant surgeons. Having had an early interest in orthopaedic surgery (after a Hunterian lecture on adolescent deformities of the acetabulum in 1936) he remained an essentially general surgeon with a large public and private practice. Noted for his determination and strength of character, he was highly respected and admired by his colleagues.

On retirement he became honorary consulting surgeon to the Newcastle Royal Infirmary and invitation Professor and head of the department of surgery in the University College of the West Indies, then only ten years old. His wife had died shortly before this and he threw himself into his new appointment with great energy, marrying one of his postgraduate students some two years later. He greatly loved Jamaica and, after his second retirement, did voluntary medical work in socially depressed areas of Kingston. By his first wife, Edith Almond, a former nurse and Heath Medallist at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, he had two daughters, both of whom were medically qualified and themselves married to doctors. When he died, aged 91, at his home in Kingston on 1 July 1985, he was survived by his daughters, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren and by his second wife, Mavis Gwendolyn (née Holness), FRCSEd, FACS, who served as a Senator and Minister of Education in the Jamaican Government.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1985, 291, 358-359 with portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England