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Biographical entry Percival, Robert Clarendon (1908 - 1995)

MRCS 1933; FRCS 1938; MRCOG 1938; FRCOG 1955; LRCP 1933.

16 September 1908
Richmond, New South Wales, Australia
13 August 1995
Obstetrician and gynaecologist


Robert Clarendon Percival was born at Richmond, New South Wales, Australia, on 16 September 1908, the fifth son and seventh of the eight children of William Percival, a farmer, and of Blanche Hilda Leontina, née Wikner, the daughter of a civil engineer. He was educated at Richmond Private Grammar School, North Richmond State School and Barker College, Hornsby, before spending one year at Sydney University. He then moved to the London Hospital Medical School where he won prizes in practical anatomy and clinical medicine before qualifying in 1933. Always known as 'Bush' because of his birthplace and accent, he was captain of the London Hospital rugby team and had also been a medium fast bowler for Kent. After resident surgical, medical and anaesthetic appointments at Poplar Hospital he became house surgeon, pathology assistant, registrar and first assistant in the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at the London Hospital, where he acknowledged his indebtedness to Aleck Bourne, Eardley Holland, Victor Lack and Alan Brews, and also to Henry Souttar, Alan Perry and G E Neligan.

During the second world war he served in the navy as a surgical specialist from 1941 to 1946 and was demobilised as a lieutenant commander, RNVR. He returned to the London Hospital and, having refused the chair of obstetrics and gynaecology, became director of that department. He edited the 13th and 14th editions of Holland and Brews' Manual of obstetrics and was a co-author of Obstetrics: by ten teachers and Gynaecology: by ten teachers. He also published a number of other papers on placenta praevia and carcinoma of the uterus. He was honorary secretary of the Section of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the Royal Society of Medicine from 1960 to 1962 and was President of the Section from 1972 to 1973. He also served as an examiner for the RCOG.

Following retirement he lived in Yeovil, and remained active in gardening, golf, fishing, shooting and tennis. He had first married Beryl Mary Ind, a state registered nurse and former sister in the QAIMNS, in 1944, and they had one daughter, who became a physiotherapist. After the death of his first wife in 1967 he married, in 1972, Beatrice Myfanwy Evans, who had been his anaesthetist for twelve years. He died of carcinoma of the prostate on 13 August 1995, survived by his daughter and his second wife.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 1996 312 50].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England