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Henry James Drew-Smythe - Training and Career Notes

Amongst the papers of Henry James Drew-Smythe was this portrait - in black and white photograph format by the studios of Gee and Watson of 102/5 Shoe Lane E.C.4. The photograph is undated. It is a portrait of one of the Presidents of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, possibly Sir William Gilliatt K.C.V.O., (confirmation invited) who was President of the College from 1946 to 1949. Portrait by David Alison

The artist was David Alison - brother of the better-known Glasgow trained (both born in Dysart, Fife - Scotland) artist, Henry Young Alison (1889-1972).

Henry James Drew-Smythe was born at Northampton in 1891, the son of a Baptist Minister (Smythe) who had married a daughter of the Drew family of Middlesex (North London) - originally from Cefnllys, Radnorshire in Wales. The Drew and Smythe names were hyphenated after the First World War.

He was the eldest of three children and the only son. He was educated at Taunton School and trained in Medicine in Bristol at the Bristol Medical School and in London at the London Hospital. He qualified in 1913. He first became a House Surgeon and House Physician at Bristol Children's Hospital (1913-1914) and in 1914 was House Surgeon at Bristol General Hospital.

In 1914 he married Enid Audrey Cloutman but they did not live together until after the First World War. During this time, he was an officer in the Territorial Army and served in the Royal Army Medical Corps seeing action in both France and Italy, winning a Military Cross for gallantry at Asiago. In January 1919 he was a member of the British delegation sent into Bavaria and Austria to oversee the repatriation of British prisoners of war.

After the war he became House Surgeon at Bristol Royal Infirmary (1919), Demonstrator of Anatomy (1921) at the Royal Free Hospital for Women and then (1921-1922) undertook a post-graduate course at the London Hospital. In 1923 he became Surgical Registrar at Bristol General Hospital and Assistant Gynaecologist in 1925. He went on to become a Professor and a celebrated medical educator in Bristol, training two generations of British and overseas doctors. He specialized in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and had consulting rooms in Pembroke Road, Clifton. Many Bristolians were 'grown and hatched' under his care, particularly at the Chesterfield Nursing Home where various members of his own extended family were born.

He was a Liveryman of the Society of Apothecaries and Freeman of the City of London. He was later Hon. Consulting Gynaecologist, United Bristol Hospitals and Southmead General Hospital - and Gynaecologist for Weston-super-Mare and Burnham-on-Sea Hospitals. He also undertook locum work in Montgomery, Somerset and Cornwall before retiring to Cheltenham in the late 1960s.

There were also two prints among his papers that he had obviously kept very carefully and treasured; one of The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in London and one of Apothecaries Hall which is housed in part of a refurbished Blackfriars precinct - the old Blackfriars having been destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666.

The print on the right is of a painting by Henry Rushbury, R.A.. Keeper of the Royal Academy, and shows the 1949 headquarters of The Royal College at 58 Queen Anne Street, London W1. This house was presented to the College in 1932 by its first President, Professor William Blair-Bell. A Silver Jubilee Building Appeal was launched in 1954 and aimed to raise 400,000 for new premises on a site adjoining Regents Park - designed by Louis de Soissons.

The print of Apothecaries' Hall (left) - at Blackfriars Lane, Queen Victoria Street E.C.4 - is from an original 1954 drawing by J.C. Moody, R.E., R.I. and was executed for a special Glaxo volume. 'The Society's home has been on its present site, that of the Monastery of the Black Friars, since 1632. The entire premises were burned down during the Great Fire of London in 1666, being completely rebuilt by the end of 1668 - substantially as they now are. In the Court Room, hangs a portrait of Gideon de Laune, first to agitate for the separation of the Apothecaries from the Grocers: it was dragged to safety during the Great Fire by one of the Society's apprentices. In the courtyard, depicted in the painting, stands a bronze laboratory tank which survived the Great Fire, and beneath it are preserved some remaining pieces of masonry from the original Monastery."

Gideon de Laune was a contemporary of William Smyth, an apothecary of Shrewsbury, whose daughter, Corbetta Smyth, was the consort of Lord William Manners, ancestor in the maternal line of this site. In the late Tudor era, Blackfriars was also the home for a while of the Children of The Chapel Royal - Chorister-Actors of the Elizabethan age - upon whom the 1976 award-winning Ballad Opera, "The Ballad of Salomon Pavey" was based - co-written by H.J. Drew-Smythe's grandson.

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