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Hood, Sir Alexander Jarvie (1860–1934)

by Ann M. Mitchell

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

Sir Alexander Jarvie Hood (1860-1934), physician, was born on 21 October 1860 at Tarbolton, Ayrshire, Scotland, seventh of nine surviving children of William Hood, manager of Robert Wotherspoon & Co., confectioners, and his wife Mary, née Jarvie. Educated at the High School and the University of Glasgow (M.B., Ch.M., 1882), he was resident medical officer at Glasgow Western Infirmary in 1882-83. In 1884 he followed two uncles to Australia.

Registering on 16 June 1884, Hood took the advice of Samuel Macnaughton and began practice at Rockymouth (Maclean) on the Clarence River. He served gratuitously as medical officer of the Lower Clarence Hospital from 1887, and next year was appointed government medical officer for the district. Overwork and ill health led him to move to Sydney in 1889, where he succeeded to the practice of Henry William Jackson.

Jarvie Hood joined the New South Wales branch of the British Medical Association in 1887 and contributed papers to several of the earlier Australasian Medical congresses. In 1889-1934 he was chief medical officer to the City Mutual Life Assurance Society Ltd, becoming a director in 1916. He was consultant to a succession of New South Wales governors from 1893; honorary medical officer to Sydney Hospital (surgeon 1890, resigned; assistant physician 1893, physician 1895, consulting physician 1920), joint honorary secretary of the New South Wales Medical Union in 1894-1921; official visitor to Gladesville and Callan Park hospitals for the insane (1903-28); first medical adviser to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (1912-34); and vice-president of the Highland Society of New South Wales (1911-34). Commissioned captain in the Army Medical Corps in 1890 and promoted major in 1900, Hood was with the New South Wales Scottish Rifles in 1904-09, and on the unattached list from 1909. As temporary lieutenant-colonel he was senior consultant physician at the Military Hospital, Randwick, from July 1915. For his honorary war service he was knighted in 1921 and known as Sir Jarvie. He was adviser to and, in 1920-34, council-member of the War Memorial Hospital, Waverley, established by the Methodist Church.

Interested in the education and encouragement of youth, from 1904 he gave an annual prize for the best first-year medical student at St Andrew's College, University of Sydney, and was a member of its council (1907-34). He was council-member of the Presbyterian Ladies' colleges at Croydon and Pymble for twenty years and furnished the new hospital for the latter in 1926. He avoided committee-room politics and his attendance at all meetings declined in the mid-1920s.

Hood's medical reputation was as a diagnostic physician. Short of stature, with winning manners, he was immensely popular with his patients. His punctuality and attention to detail also endeared him to hospital residents and nurses.

Always generous to his family, Hood had brought two unmarried sisters out from Scotland in the early 1890s; the younger, Margaret, became his housekeeper and devoted guardian. He died at his home, St Mungo, Potts Point, on 8 May 1934, and was cremated after a funeral service conducted there by the Presbyterian Rev. Samuel Angus. Despite his large practice, Hood did not make his money from his profession but from investing wisely on the advice of his many influential friends. After providing for Margaret Hood, he left the residue of his estate, proved for probate at £186,325, in trust to his four married sisters or their children.

Select Bibliography

  • Royal Commission on Lunacy Law and Administration, Parliamentary Papers (New South Wales), 1923, 1, p 651
  • Australasian Medical Gazette, Mar 1887
  • Scottish Australasian, May 1911, Jan 1921
  • Medical Journal of Australia, 7 July 1934
  • Clarence and Richmond Examiner, 15 July 1884, 10 Aug, 14 Sept 1889, 29 Dec 1894
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 9 May 1934
  • private information.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Ann M. Mitchell, 'Hood, Sir Alexander Jarvie (1860–1934)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/hood-sir-alexander-jarvie-6724/text11613, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 14 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

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