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Maudsley, Sir Henry Carr (1859–1944)

by K. F. Russell

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

Sir Henry Carr Maudsley (1859-1944), physician, was born on 25 April 1859 at Stainforth, Settle, Yorkshire, England, son of Thomas Maudsley, farmer, and his wife Ann, née Annistead. Henry Maudsley (1835-1918), founder of the Maudsley Hospital for mental diseases at Denmark Hill, London, was his uncle.

Maudsley was educated at Giggleswick School, near Stainforth, and at University College, London, where he matriculated. In 1880 he obtained the diploma of M.R.C.S. and graduated M.B., B.S. in 1881 from the University of London with first-class honours in medicine and surgery and the gold medal in surgery. Appointed house physician and surgeon at University College Hospital in 1880, he was resident medical officer there in 1882-87. He obtained his M.D. in 1883 and his M.R.C.P. in 1884. In 1887, however, he was unsuccessful in an application to join the hospital staff and next year migrated to Melbourne where he was immediately appointed to the out-patient staff of the Alfred Hospital, becoming an in-patient physician in 1892. Keen to work in a teaching hospital, he stood next year for election as an out-patient physician at the (Royal) Melbourne Hospital but, unwilling to canvass, did not succeed. Friends helped him to win election as an indoor physician in 1903, the year after his election as fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London.

In 1908-21 Maudsley was lecturer in theory and practice of medicine at the University of Melbourne. His eminence during this period was widely acknowledged. He was a vice-president of the section of medicine at the International Congress of Medicine held in London in 1912, acting in absentia, and in 1920 presided over the neurology and psychiatry section of the Australasian Medical Congress in Brisbane.

With the outbreak of war in 1914 Maudsley, an honorary major in the Australian Army Medical Corps Reserve from 1909, was appointed to the 1st Australian General Hospital, Australian Imperial Force, as senior physician with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. The hospital was established at Heliopolis early in 1915 and while based there Maudsley visited Gallipoli and Mudros to inspect the sick and wounded. In 1916 he was made consulting physician at A.I.F. Headquarters, London, and promoted colonel. With Colonel (Sir) Charles Ryan he served as a medical board to assess the fitness of officers and men for duty, refusing appointment with the British Expeditionary Force in France because he felt that his work was with the Australians. Mentioned in dispatches (1916) for valuable services, he was appointed C.M.G. in 1916 and C.B.E. and K.C.M.G. in 1919. That year he returned to Melbourne to resume private practice; he retired from the active staff of the Melbourne Hospital but remained consulting physician there and at St Vincent's Hospital, establishing a neurological and psychiatric clinic at the Melbourne Hospital in 1923.

Maudsley was frail looking with a quiet voice and a friendly, whimsical manner. He seemed to know everything and everybody in the Melbourne medical world, yet was extremely modest and self-effacing. He was not entirely successful as a teacher for his wide knowledge and extensive reading did not allow him to dogmatize; nevertheless his clinics were always popular and he established neurology as a clinical entity in Melbourne. He taught students to consider every fact and circumstance, including the patient's home life and social background, before making a diagnosis. He had a remarkable memory, never forgetting a student or patient, and was at his best on his daily rounds with his house physicians. As a private consultant he was clear and definite. Not a fluent orator, he spoke little at meetings and wrote less, but when necessary was fearless in expressing his strongly held opinions.

On 18 February 1890 at St Mary's Church of England, Caulfield, Maudsley had married Grace Elizabeth, sister of J. F. Stretch. Lady Maudsley was a foundation member of the Victoria League in Melbourne and an executive member of the National Council of Women. Her interest in education led to her membership of the committee of Janet Clarke Hall, University of Melbourne, where, after her death in January 1933, the Grace Maudsley prize was founded by friends.

In his student days Maudsley had been a skilled mountaineer and for years he enjoyed an occasional climb in the Healesville district. In 1934, when taking his evening walk along Alexandra Avenue, South Yarra, he was hit by a car and sustained a cerebral injury which made him a complete invalid. He died in Melbourne on 5 March 1944 and was cremated. His daughter and his son Henry Fitzgerald (1891-1962), awarded the Military Cross in World War I and a prominent Melbourne neurologist, survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • Who's Who in the World of Women, vol 1 (Melb, 1930)
  • Lives of the Fellows of the Royal College of Physicians of London 1826-1925, 4 (Lond, 1955)
  • A. M. Mitchell, The Hospital South of the Yarra (Melb, 1977)
  • A. G. Butler (ed), The Official History of the Australian Army Medical Services in the War of 1914-1918, vol 1 (Melb, 1930)
  • British Medical Journal, 1944, 1, p 437, 575
  • Medical Journal of Australia, 29 Apr 1944, p 402
  • Royal Melbourne Hospital, Clinical Reports, 15 (1944), p 1
  • Argus (Melbourne), 7 Mar 1944.

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Citation details

K. F. Russell, 'Maudsley, Sir Henry Carr (1859–1944)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 29 October 2016.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

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