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Biographical entry Simpson, John Fergusson (1902 - 1995)

MRCS 1926; FRCS 1929; LRCP 1926.

12 September 1995
ENT surgeon


John Simpson was born in Maidenhead in 1902, the son of a Colonel. He spent his early years in Reading but went up to St Mary's Hospital Medical School in Paddington for his entire medical education and remained with that hospital throughout his career. He qualified in 1926, immediately worked for the FRCS which he gained in 1929 and then dedicated himself to otolaryngology.

After working as assistant to Lionel Colledge, the pioneer laryngeal surgeon, he gained his first consultant appointment at the Throat Hospital in Golden Square, but was soon afterwards elected ENT surgeon to St Mary's. Having joined the RAFVR before the war he was called back from holiday at the outbreak of hostilities, driving his Bentley at high speed from the south of France. He served throughout the war, mostly at RAF Halton, ending as squadron leader with a DSO. The war over, he married Winifred 'Pegs' Rood by whom he was to have a son and a daughter.

Back at St Mary's he shouldered a heavy clinical load but was a stickler for prompt attendance at his clinics and operating lists, and greatly respected for it. He was best known for his innovative approach to cancer of the larynx and pharynx but he covered the whole field of his specialty, publishing his Synopsis of otolaryngology in 1957. He was a great admirer of Joseph Toynbee, the pioneer aural surgeon appointed to St Mary's at its foundation when it was the first hospital to include such a specialist department. At the Royal Society of Medicine, where he was President of the Section of Otology in 1962, he established the Toynbee Lecture, since delivered by many distinguished otolaryngologists.

He enjoyed robust good health and lived to the age of 92 years. He died in his sleep on 12 September 1995.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 1995 311 149].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England