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Andrew, Marshall (1897–1960)

by Jan McDonald

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

Marshall Andrew (1897-1960), medical practitioner, was born on 6 September 1897 at Willoughby, Sydney, youngest of four children of John Andrew, printer and stationer, and his wife Jessie Davidson, née Colvin, both migrants from Scotland. Educated at Barker College, where he was head prefect, and at the University of Sydney (M.B., Ch.M., 1923), Marshall served as a resident medical officer at Sydney Hospital in 1923-24 before working overseas. He returned to New South Wales and entered general practice. On 16 October 1929 he married Agnes (Nancy) Hood Fenwick at St Philip's Anglican Church, Sydney.

Moving his practice to Picton that year, Andrew became visiting medical officer at the Queen Victoria Sanatorium, Thirlmere, and at the Picton Lakes Village, thereby beginning his lifelong involvement in the treatment of tuberculosis. In 1939 he sold his Picton practice and visited Britain and Scandinavia to study the treatment of the disease. Back in New South Wales later that year, he settled at Leura in the Blue Mountains, and was appointed medical superintendent of the Bodington Red Cross Home and the Queen Victoria Home for Consumptives, Wentworth Falls. At a time of austerity and shortages Andrew demonstrated considerable technical ingenuity in using discarded components to construct necessary but unobtainable equipment, such as tomography apparatus. In 1946 he returned to private practice as a chest specialist.

A bout of viral pneumonia weakened his health and led him in July 1949 to take the position of State director of tuberculosis, with the immediate task of implementing the Commonwealth-State anti-tuberculosis programme. In some quarters his appointment met only grudging support: a commentator in the Sydney Morning Herald suggested that, had a larger salary been offered, the State could have obtained an outstanding expert. While that newspaper continued to criticize the New South Wales Labor government's allegedly dilatory record on tuberculosis, it did not directly attack Dr Andrew who was, himself, to be frustrated by public service constraints and delays.

By the time Andrew resigned in January 1960, deaths from tuberculosis in New South Wales had fallen from 769 in 1949 to 224 in 1959, and the number of new cases detected had dropped from 1642 to 1166 over the same period. He gave due emphasis to the detection, treatment and rehabilitation of tuberculosis sufferers, and took particular pride in the increased number of chest clinics (from 8 to 9 in Sydney, and from 2 to 40 in country areas), the elimination of waiting lists for treatment and the additional facilities in public hospitals. The retreat of tuberculosis, however, probably resulted as much from improvements in general nutrition and housing standards, the spread of pasteurization and the efficacy of new drugs as from the formal anti-tuberculosis campaign with its compulsory mass X-rays and special pensions. Nonetheless, Andrew had played an important role in achieving the willing co-operation of private practitioners and public health authorities in the implementation of a major campaign, and was praised for his dexterity in overcoming previously strained relations.

Andrew's interests included photography and contract bridge, but his greatest passion was for golf: he was a champion club player and a dedicated member of the Picton, Leura and Killara clubs. He was also a director of the Queen Victoria Homes for Consumptives and later of the family printing firm, John Andrew & Co. With his wife Nancy he had supported the Blue Mountains Grammar School at Springwood. Andrew possessed most of the virtues commonly associated with doctors of his era. Dedicated and hard working, with a strong sense of right and wrong, he was generous to friends and patients.

He never fully recovered from Nancy's sudden death in October 1959 which, with his retirement, left him bereft. In mid-1960 he went abroad. He died of myocardial infarction on 25 July at Newport, Wales, and was cremated. His two sons survived him; his estate was sworn for probate at £54,451. The Marshall Andrew unit at Wollongong Hospital is named in his memory.

Select Bibliography

  • B. B. Schaffer and D. C. Corbett (eds), Decisions (Melb, 1965)
  • F. B. Smith, The Retreat of Tuberculosis (Lond, 1988)
  • Director-General of Public Health (New South Wales), Annual Report, 1953-60
  • Medical Journal of Australia, 15 July 1961
  • Historical Studies, no 80, Apr 1983
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 6, 15 May 1949, 29 Jan, 28 July 1960
  • private information.

Citation details

Jan McDonald, 'Andrew, Marshall (1897–1960)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/andrew-marshall-9363/text16443, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 13 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

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