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Biographical entry Nicol, Thomas (1900 - 1983)

FRCS by election 1951; MB ChB Glasgow 1922; DSc 1934; MD 1935; DSc London 1938; FRCS Ed 1926; FRS Ed 1938.

4 August 1900
7 February 1983


Thomas Nicol was born in Scotland on 4 August 1900, the son of William Nicol and Mary Wilson Gilmour and after early education entered the University of Glasgow for his medical studies, qualifying in 1922. Shortly after qualification he became senior house surgeon to Sir William Maccwen at the Western Infirmary, Glasgow, and demonstrator in the department of anatomy at Glasgow University. In 1926 he passed the FRCS Edinburgh and in the following year was appointed senior lecturer in anatomy. He undertook research into the role of the reticulo-endothelial system in the defense system of the body and its stimulation with 17 beta-ostradiol. He was awarded the degree of Doctor of Science by Glasgow University in 1934 and the degree of Doctor of Medicine in 1935 with the Bellahouston Gold Medal and the Struthers Gold Medal and Prize.

In 1936 he was appointed Professor of Anatomy at King's College, London, and two years later was awarded the degree of Doctor of Science in the University of London and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. After the outbreak of war the department of anatomy was evacuated, first to Glasgow and later to Birmingham, and the opportunities for further research were reduced. He examined in anatomy for the primary FRCS for many years and was also examiner to the Universities of London, Birmingham, Durham, Glasgow and St Andrew's. He was John Hunter lecturer in applied anatomy at St George's Hospital and Malcolm McHardy lecturer at the Royal Eye Hospital. Throughout his life he encouraged his students to broaden their knowledge by attending lectures by visiting professors who came to King's College and he was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1951. He remained at King's College for 31 years, retiring in 1967 but then went to the Institute of Laryngology where he started a department of clinical anatomy, remaining as director until 1982.

His recreations were music, golf and swimming and he was appointed honorary member of the Mark Twain Society in succession to Sir Alexander Fleming. He was also Lord of the Manor of Heveningham, Suffolk. In 1927 he married Evelyn Keeling, daughter of Thomas Keeling, former engineer-in-chief of the Glasgow and South Western Railway. Sadly his wife was stricken with rheumatic fever during pregnancy resulting in severe heart valve disease and she died in 1966. He died on 7 February 1983, aged 82, survived by a son and daughter.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Lancet 1983, 1, 486 with portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England