OBITUARY OF ELLIS PEARSON

In 1903 Ellis Pearson wrote a letter to the British Medical Journal about a case of ‘ulcerative lupus of the nose’ and I wondered if he was an ENT specialist and if he was treating William Tyson for throat cancer. It transpired he was not a specialist but his obituary (BMJ, 20 Nov 1954, p 1234-5), is well worth reading because of his pioneering association with X-rays, which caused him some damage, though he lived to be eighty-five.

Mr. ELLIS PEARSON, well known as a surgeon in North Devon and one of the pioneers in the use of x-ray apparatus, died at his home at Bideford on October 30. He was 85 years of age. Ellis Pearson was born at Aintree, Liverpool, on January 20, 1869, and was educated privately until he entered University College, Liverpool, as a medical student. He qualified by taking the Scottish triple qualification in 1895, and three years later he obtained the F.R.C.S.Ed. Before taking the Edinburgh Fellowship he worked for three years with Sir Robert Jones at the Royal Southern Hospital, Liverpool, where he attended the first demonstration of x rays in the city. His interest in radiology, thus aroused, remained with him throughout his long life. He was one of the early members of the Rontgen Society, and in 1907 acted as one of the honorary secretaries of the Electrical Section-better known to-day as the Section of Radiology-when the British Medical Association held its Annual Meeting at Exeter in 1907. He read a paper before the Secion on the use of x rays from the point of view of the general practitioner. After practising for a short time at Birkenhead and at Castletown, Isle of Man, he settled at Bideford in 1902 and speedily built up an extensive surgical practice. His outstanding abilities resulted in constant demands being made from over a wide area for his help in consultation. In addition, he acted as coroner for North Devon for 23 years and medical officer of health for Bideford for 41 years, holding both appointments until his death. The first child welfare clinic in the area, established on a voluntary basis, was one of his creations. A serving brother of the Venerable Order of St. John of Jerusalem, he took a great interest in ambulance work in the district. A member of the British Medical Association for nearly 50 years, he represented Barnstaple at the Annual Representative Meetings in 1907, 1910, and 1914 and at all three of the Special Representative Meetings held in 1911, and so had a grandstand view of the stormy discussions concerned with the provisions of the National Insurance Bill which became law that year. He was chairman of the Barnstaple Division from 1934 to 1936 and president of the South-western Branch in 1934-5. In spite of Pearson's busy professional life he found time for many sporting activities. As a young man he played Rugby football for Liverpool District and occasionally for Birkenhead Park; he was also an exceptionally good soccer player, as well as cricketer and oarsman. Bringing his Irish hunter, Lassie, down to Devon, he hunted until 1922. An original steward of the Pony Turf Club, he rode with much success in point-to-point races until concussion (and his wife's entreaties) induced him to desist. His was an indomitable spirit. At the age of 79, having lost three fingers of the right hand and one and a half of the left as a result of a severe x-ray burn suffered 20 years before, he took up carpentry, and in particular the making of toys and models, as a hobby. His genial personality will be sadly missed in North Devon. He is survived by his son, Charles, an orthopaedic specialist in the Royal Navy. and by his two daughters, his wife, formerly Miss A. E. Williams, whom he married in 1896, having predeceased him.-M. W. L.

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