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Historic Hospital Admission Records Project

Historical Background

BERRY, Sir James (1860-1946)

Born in Kingston Ontario to a solicitor and shipowner, James Berry was educated at Whitgift School in Croydon and St. Bartholomew's Hospital. His own disadvantages of a short leg and cleft palate did not hamper his career, and may have been the spur to his interest in surgery, which was fostered under the tutelage of Sir Thomas Smith at Bart's. He became surgeon at the Alexandra Hip Hospital in 1885, occupying that post after being elected surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital in 1891. His special interest in cleft palate surgery and in thyroid surgery was matched by a love of the Slavic countries, and his interest in that area (and fluency in Magyar and Serbian) prompted he and his wife (who was an eminent anaesthetist) to volunteer for the Anglo-Serbian hospital unit of the Red Cross in 1915, where he remained until being taken prisoner by the Austro-Hungarian army. On repatriation, he managed a Red Cross unit in Rumania. After the war he returned to his civilian position, and resumed his many activities with medical societies.