Sherren's of the World - Page 1 to 25




The World

by Joseph C. Sherren


The Sherrens




This is Weymouth

Weymouth is in the County of Dorset, England on the English Channel and covers 16 square miles. It is very rich in history and Bronze Age weapons and Roman interments have been found on this site.

Weymouth's first specific charter implemented in 1252 made it a free borough and a port for all merchants, and trading soon began with Bayonne and Aquitaine in France. Weymouth sent six ships against the attacking Spanish Armada in the year 1588 and at least one of these ships was brought into the harbour.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, there was much trade with North America. By 1750, the port had declined to a fishing village, however, it's reputation as a seaside resort grew, especially following a series of visits by King George III who reigned from 1760 to 1820.

During the 19th century, the port revived with the expansion of trade with the Channel Islands, lying across the English Channel near the French coast. South of Weymouth itself is the peninsular Isle of Portland, culminating in a point at the Bill of Portland.

In 1763, it is said that the first bathing machine was used here, and in 1789 King George III came to try out the new invention while the band played "God save the King" He liked to return frequently staying in what is now the Gloucester Hotel. These visits are what turned the fighting port into a handsome seaside resort.

Weymouth is Dorset's second largest town and sprawling with predictably boring suburbs. Downtown St. Thomas Street is the main and quite a metropolitan shopping one. The nearby River harbour, located between pubs and warehouses, is busy and affluent with large yachts, motor cruisers and cargo ships

The narrow streets on either side of St. Thomas Street are worth exploring. St. Mary's Church built in 1817 is pleasant and Georgian and contains a Last Supper painting by Sir James Thornhill who's most famous works are the paintings in the Dome of St. Paul's Cathedral.

A little further up St. Mary's Street, at number 791 you will find a small printing firm with the name "Sherren & Son" which is the business established James Sherren, and his son John Angel Sherren in the early 1800s. This stationery shop, which occupies the site on which the Ship Inn formerly stood, stayed in the Sherren family until 1926 when it was leased to True Form, then subsequently purchased by a journalist Henry Nathaniel Byles.

- Page 01 -


In or around March of 1758, a James Sherren was born in Weymouth, England. He was a cabinet (furniture) maker and a leader in the Methodist Church movement. Early records in the Methodist Church in Weymouth, show that his father was also named James. Other records show that his father's name may have been Henry.

There are many entries during this period with the names Shearing and Sherring. I do not know whether these people are related, but it is assumed that these are either miss-spellings of the name Sherren or members of another family line.

Records, as well as information gathered from gravestones show that a William Sherren, born in 1744, had a younger brother James. It is assumed that this would be our James. We also believe that there was a third brother Henry, born in 1759 and died in 1831. It is from him, that we feel the families and direct relatives of Mrs. Edna Barnett, who is detailed later in this chapter, belong.

Following this family back in time we see that the parents of these two brothers were Henry and Elizabeth, of whom I have no other information. However, I can follow this line back six more generations to 1592 as follows: Parents of this Henry were also a Henry (1698-1751), who's wife's name was Thomasine. This Henry's parents were John of Broadmayne (1654-1714), and Barbara. John's father was William, born in 1592 to Peter Sherren of Dorset County.

Returning to James in Weymouth, he was married twice, each time to a Mary. The first, Mary Luckham, was born on May 11, 1768, and blessed him with five children as follows:

Samuel (July 30) 1791 - 1864 (73) Page 50.
Sarah Jane 1793 - ? ( ?) Page 02.
James 1796 - 1800 ( 4) No Information
John 1798 - 1800 ( 2) No Information
William 1800 - ? ( ) Page 175.

Although not known, it would appear that except for Samuel and William and Sara the other two children died due to an accident or epidemic during the year 1800. His wife Mary died on January 13th, 1806.

It is presumed that Sarah Jane became the wife of Edward Sawyer, as she was mentioned in her father's (James) Will which follows later in this chapter.

- Page 02 -


James two sons, Samuel the elder, and his younger brother William, left England to make a new home in North America. There are records of two ships from England, which brought immigrants to Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island in the year 1816.

One of those arrived at Charlottetown in March, the other on June 28th. The second one was called the Valiant and was known to hold many of the early settlers of Crapaud. Among them were the Trowsdales, Nicholsons and the Smiths.

Back in England, James, their father was married for the second time in 1806 to Mary Angel who also belonged to the Methodist Society which is perhaps a clue as to how they met. Mary Angel was born in Portland in 1776 and died around 1813.

James and his second wife, Mary Angel had a family of four children:

Elizabeth 1806 - ? ( ) No Information.
John 1808 - 1856 (48) Page 03.
Elizabeth 1810 - ? ( ) No Information.
James 1813 - 1874 (61) Page 03.

It appears that the first Elizabeth and John in the family died as infants, and since it was common in those days to give subsequent children the name of a deceased sibling, these names have been repeated in the family.

There is also record of a ship, which landed in the United States during the 1830s. An Elizabeth Sherren was on its passenger list. It is possible that this may have been the sister of James who was born in 1810.

John, born in 1808, moved to the London where he was married and some of his descendents continue to reside. There is a Sherren family line living in South Africa (detailed later in this chapter) who may be descendent from this man.

The youngest child of James' second marriage was the third James Sherren. He was also an active Methodist and was well educated. He apprenticed with a print shop learning own printing business in Weymouth. One of James' sons, John, eventually took this over. Although it has since changed hands, it is still in operation today and using the name the trade. In 1837, at the age of 24 he founded his "Sherren and Son". More on this James follows in this chapter.

- Page 03 -


James senior died early in the year 1934. The last will and testament of James Sherren, County of Dorset, cabinet maker dated July 4th, 1831, and proved by Executrix (wife Mary) on February 03, 1934, reads as follows:

"To my wife Mary my messuage, tenement and farm in the Parish of Broadmaine, co: Dorset during her life and after her decease, to my son SAMUEL; my daughter Sarah, the wife of Edward Sawyer otherwise Sair; my son John and my son James as tenants in common."

My said wife to be Executrix.
Witnesses: Fran(cin) Oakley of Radipole, Dorset.
Clerk Mary Oakley ) his son and
Giles Herbert Oakley ) daughter
John Commins, Painter.

It is curious that his other surviving son, William, who was living in Newfoundland, was not mentioned in this will.

James (1813-1874), the youngest son of James and his wife Mary, was brought up a strict Methodist. They opened a printing shop at 27 St. Mary's Street, which specialized in Newspapers, guides and maps. He married Mary Courtney of Fleet and raised the following family of four.

Henry (1843 - 1911), went into the printing business with his father for a short while, then left home and moved to the London area where it is believed that he embarked on a literary career. It is thought that he may have had a disagreement with his father and this is why he left the business and the town of Weymouth. It has also been reported that he later changed the spelling of his name to "Scherren"

Mary Elizabeth "Bessie" (1854 - 1928), (74), She was married to J. B. Cole, a Jeweller, in Weymouth. Both were active Methodists.

John Angel Sherren (1846 - 1922) (76). He joined his father in the printing business and was known as the Son, in Sherren and Son. He eventually took over this business from his father. He became a Justice of the Peace, and was known be a character of very strong determination. Their home was known as the "Helmsey" residence located on St. Thomas Street, in Weymouth.

- Page 04 -


John and his wife Annie Eliza Wilkenson, had a family of four: Fanny (1870 - 1943), was in a nursing career before getting married to Henry Woledge. James (1872 - 1945), later known as the famous Sailor and surgeon in England, who we shall hear more about in following chapters.

Wilkenson (1875 - 1953), who became a journalist and novelist. Beatrice Mary (1882 - 1966), married W. H. Markham-Lee who was a well known musician.

Frederick George (1849-1922) (73), He moved to Dover and went into the Customs and Excise profession.

More details regarding this family line can be found in a booklet written by Edith McCall Pearson in 1979 titled "Sherrens, the Firm and the Family". You should note that this book was printed by the firm "Sherren and Son" The following pages in this portion of the book will focus on the Sherrens who remained primarily around England, and who are direct descendents of James.

Descendents of William, who we believe may be a brother or first cousin of James, who are also living in the south west of England can be found in a later chapter entitled "William of Broadmayne" In notes from a diary (which follows), written by our Dr. James, he mentions an uncle who may have been lost at sea in the year 1887. I cannot determine exactly who this was, but think that it may have been a distant cousin, and member of the Australian family.

The following pages will focus on the life of this Doctor James (surgeon & sailor).

- Page 05 -

View Family Tree of John Angel Sherrin, - Page 06 -


The following is an excerpt from this publication on the life of James (1872-1945), son of John Angel, who became a famous Sailor and surgeon in London:

"This son of John Angel Sherren became world-famous. He attended Weymouth College from January, 1885 to July, 1887 when it was a boys school. Later he was active in the affairs of the Old Weymouthians' Club and despite his demanding work in London he undertook its Presidency for ten consecutive years from 1909 to 1918, and always made time to preside at the annual dinner.

Early in life he went to sea, at age 13 serving first as an apprentice in a four-masted ship. He was trained in both sail and steam. He obtained his Masters Mariner's certificate at the age of 21.

Repeated attacks of malaria contracted at Delagoa Bay in Portuguse, East Africa caused him to consider the wisdom of changing his calling and on a run to South Africa when serving as Chief Officer of a liner, his choice was made. Sherren was very friendly with the ship's doctor and had on occasion, assisted him as an anaesthetist. The influence of this doctor played a large part in persuading him to take up medicine.

In May, 1894, Sherren entered the London Hospital as a student. He proved brilliant in this so different sphere and gained the prize in anatomy & physiology. In his final year he gained scholarships in medicine and obstetrics. In the year 1900, he passed the final Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons, England. His parents celebrated this achievement by presenting him with a gold watch, suitably inscribed. The full story of his career, appointments and his multitudinous research is a fascinating one, showing the wide scope of his surgical interests

He possessed sound judgement and his technical skill was such that he could tackle almost any surgical problem. He was associated in research work with some of the most imminent surgeons of the land and he also produced writings, articles in the "Practitioner" chapters of the Choyce's "System of Surgery" and had lectures published in the "Lancet"

- Page 07 -


It may not be known to many lay people that a part of the human body carries Sherren's name. Lines joining the summet of the iliac crest, the pubic tubercle and umbilicus form what is known as "Sherren's Triangle", and he refers to this area of skin hyperaesthesia met with obstructive appendicitis as an indication that the appendix is distended and may burst at any moment hence immediate surgery is needed.

He played an active part at the Royal College of Surgeons and was elected Vice President of the College in 1925 and in 1926.

He served with rank of Colonel in the Army Medical Service during the First World War, as Consultant Surgeon attached to the War Office, and undertook other hospital duties. In 1919, he was honoured by being made a commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

Sherren's advancement was due to sheer ability and strength of character. For many years, whenever he operated, his theater would be crowded with visiting Surgeons from abroad, especially from the United States, who had come to witness his great technical skill.

Also among his gifts, Sherren had musical talents and was an accomplished violinist.

He was unceasing in his search for truth. One of his distinguished colleagues said that when he came to know him socially he realized that there was a great humility about him, coupled with a streak of kindness which he was loath to show. It is important to remember that the great surgeon, James Sherren, was working before the discovery of penicillin, and without the benefits of modern anaesthesia, pathological and radiological investigations and the advances in blood transfusion.

In 1926, at the height of his career, James Sherren suddenly retired and decided to spend his remaining days at his home overlooking Poole Harbour. However, within a few months he went back to sea as a ship's doctor.

- Page 08 -


During the second World War he served on the staff of the local Hospital. When he lived at Broadstone, in Dorset he enjoyed sailing, golf, and playing the violin. He died on October 29, 1945 at the age of 73.

On November 23rd, 1972, A.M.A. Moore, Consulting Surgeon to the London Hospital ended the James Sherren Centenary Memorial lecture with these words: "While Britain breeds such men, her position in surgery remains assured"

James' wife Madeline Thorne is thought to have come from Yorkshire. Very little is known about her with the reason being is that the Sherren family did not entirely approve of the marriage. She died in 1965.

James and Madeline had five children :

James Courteney, (1901-1969), known as 'Uncle Jim', was married briefly but had no children. His marriage only lasted for a few years, ending in divorce. For most of the rest of his life he lived with his mother and worked for the Metal Box Company, and secondly, for the aircraft manufacturers, Saunders-Roe.

Barbara, born in 1903, was first married to Charles Lloyd with whom she had the following children :

Samuel Lloyd, who lives in Brussels with his wife Elaine and three children. He works for the European Nuclear Research Organization.

Peter Lloyd, who was formerly the principal flutist of the London Symphony Orchestra, but is now Professor of music at Bloomington, Illinois. He and his wife Geraldine have three children.

David Lloyd, who works in local government and is married with five children. One of those is Susan, who was a student nurse an the London Hospital. It is worth pointing out that including her there has been four generations that have worked at the London hospital.

Barbara later married Mr. Austin Waiter, who was a director of Permutit Ltd., one of the leading manufacturers of water softeners in England. She now lives in a retirement home, her second husband having died some years ago.


- Page 09 -


Mary, the third in the family of James and Madeline, was born in 1905. Her Husband John Nicholson was the chairman of the 'Rolls Royce' of yacht builders, Camper & Nicholson of Southampton, a firm founded by his father.

The firm built the yachts Shamrock V and Endeavour I & II, which challenged for the America's Cup during the 1930's. They have three children :

Michael, a professional photographer who is unmarried.

Christopher, who now works for Camper & Nicholson, still a thriving yacht builder. He is married with three children.

Sally, married with three children, one of whom died in 1989 in the well known passenger boat accident on the Thames River in London.

Henry John, (1907-1982), who also became a general medical practitioner running his own practice in Crediton, Devon.

During the war he was a naval officer on convoy duty. He married Margaret Thompson, who also died during the 1980s. They had three daughters :

Ann, who was a nursing sister at the London hospital for many years.

Gillian, who married Tom Philcox, a farmer in Devon. They in turn also have three children.

Susan, who married Tom King and have three children.

David, born in 1909, a qualified Chartered Accountant for many years was Treasurer of the London Hospital being appointed in 1948. Prior to this he worked for what was known as Coopers Brothers (now Coopers & Lybrand). As a hobby David has been a very keen golfer.

In 1937 he married Phyllis Adams who in earlier times was an avid sailor. She and her sister owned a sailing dinghy and were to be seen at every free moment sailing their boat around Paighton harbour and the south Devon coast. David and Phyllis have two sons:

- Page 10 -


Paul James, born in 1943, qualified as a solicitor in 1969. After a period working in the industry for companies such as Unilever, Costaine and Bowater, is now a Partner in a firm of commercial lawyers, Malkin & Janners, based in Covent Garden in London. Here he specializes in commercial property law.

His principle interests are opera-going (his office is within two minutes walk of the Royal Opera House), squash and tennis.

In 1977 he married Valentina Harabosky an American from Los Angeles, USA. Her mother, who now lives in San Diego was born in the Ukraine, Russia, and was taken prisoner by the German army during the war, following the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. She was taken to Germany and worked on a farm until the end of the war.

Paul's wife Valentina (Val), was born in Germany in 1947, her father an American serviceman who unfortunately deserted Val and her mother shortly after Val was born. The immigrated to the US and eventually obtained citizenship. Paul met her in London while she was travelling through the U.K. and Europe. She is on her way to being a Social worker and has passed the Welfare Studies Course and is now an AMIWO.

Paul and Val have two children :

Matthew (born 1978), who leads a happy life with his interests and friends.

Laura who was born in 1980, has already met many mayors, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and will soon be presented to Princess Margaret. Her picture is continually being found in various newspapers and has even been shown in a national newspaper. She may become a model after she finishes school.

Andrew John (Born 1947) brother of Paul works as and agricultural chemist at Shell in Sittingbourne, Kent. He is a keen squash player and has captained the Shell team in the Rent area leagues.

He and his wife Judy have two sons, Howard James born in 1982 and Allastair Clive (born 1984).

David and Phyllis now 1ive in Amersham, Buckinghamshire enjoying their retirement.

- Page 11 -


The Life of James Sherren

Surgeon and Sailor


 What follows now are two documents. The first of which is transcript of the full text of the James Sherren Memorial Lecture given at the London Hospital in 1972. It was attended by most of James' children and grandchildren and a proud event for all of them.

The second document is a copy of some notes made by James, Surgeon & Sailor, for a lecture given at the Royal College of Surgeons around 1934. These should be of high interest to anyone and show his great concern for and the ultimate improvements made to medical care at sea.

The documents now follow:

 - Page 12 -

Reprinted from BRIT. J. SURG., 1973, Vol. 60, No. 11, NOVEMBER





JAMES SHERREN was born at Weymouth in 1872, just one hundred years ago. He was the son of John A. Sherren, a Justice of the Peace, who was a printer and publisher and a pillar of the Methodist Church. He was educated at Weymouth College. Early in his life he showed a great love of the idea of becoming a sailor and was very conscious that the sea has ruled our destinies. At the age of 13 he went to the sea, serving first as an apprentice in a four-masted ship. He was trained in both sail and steam. In due course he obtained his master mariner's certificate (as Frederick Treves had done before him). He was 21 years of age at the time.

Starboard Watch


James Sherren when an apprentice on board ship. He is the youth leaning on his left elbow.

One can imagine that even in those early days he possessed an unusual determination and strength of character. Repeated attacks of malaria contracted at Delagoa Bay in Portuguese East Africa caused him to consider the wisdom of changing his calling, and on a run to South Africa when servicing as chief officer on a liner his choice was made. Sherren was very friendly with the ship's doctor and had on occasions to assist him in the capacity of an anaesthetist. The influence of this doctor played a large part in

* The James Sherren Centenary Memorial Lecture delivered at the London Hospital on 23 Nov., 1972.

- Page 13 -

842 BRIT. J. SURG., I973, Vol. 60, No. 11, NOVEMBER

persuading him to take up medicine. So began a career which was to enrich surgery.

In May, 1894, Sherren entered the London Hospital as a student. It must have been difficult for one who had spent so many years at sea to take up studies in this new field, but he stuck to it and had a brilliant student career. He was awarded the prize in anatomy and physiology and in his final year gained scholarships in medicine and obstetrics.

James Sherren

James Sherren at the height of his career.

He was greatly influenced by the consultants under whom he worked. He served as clinical clerk to Sir Stephen Mackenzie and Dr. Gustav Schorstein, and as a dresser to Mr. Mansell Moullin and Mr. H. P. Dean, and to Sir Frederick Treves and Mr. Jonathan Hutchinson, junior. All these are famous names in the London Hospital's history. Sherren passed the Primary Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1897 while still a student, and qualified in 1899.

After qualification he served as house physician to Dr. Sanson and Dr. F. J. Smith, whose portrait hangs in the Club's Union, house surgeon to Mr. Hurry Fenwick and Mr. Roxborough, receiving room officer, and finally junior and then senior resident accoucheur. When holding this last appointment he was President of the Residents' Mess. When he was junior resident accoucheur his senior was Dr. Cecil Wall, who later was to be the distinguished physician on the consultant staff of the London Hospital.

In 1900 he passed the Final Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. His parents presented him with a suitably inscribed gold watch to celebrate his success. Early in 1901 he was appointed surgical registrar at the same time as Henry Newland, who was later to be the first President of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. Sir Henry Newland, as he became, used to visit the London Hospital frequently in later years. I first met him at the coronary meeting of the British Medical Association in 1932 when I was Sir Henry Souttar's registrar. In December, 1902, at the age of 30 James Sherren was appointed to the surgical staff of the London Hospital as assistant surgeon on the retirement of Mr. Waren Tay, the famous general surgeon and ophthalmologist whose name is remembered as one of the describers of Tay-Sachs disease. This was 8-1/2 years after he had started as a medical student, a most remarkable record. At the same time in 1902 he was appointed surgeon to Poplar Hospital, which at that time was closely associated with the London Hospital, and surgeon to the Stanmore Cottage Hospital.

He quickly showed his soundness of judgement and technical skill and the fact that he could tackle almost any surgical problem.

For some years he served as a demonstrator of anatomy and of surgical pathology, and from 1903 to 1911 he lectured on elementary clinical surgery.

In 1908 he was joint editor with Sir Robert Hutchinson of the Index of Treatment published in Bristol.

James Sherren did pioneer research work with Sir Henry Head, the brilliant neurologist, on the peripheral nervous system, and in 1908 published a Monograph of Injuries of Nerves and Their Treatment. In the First World War injuries of nerves were studied with great care. Much of this work was based on Sherren's monograph. The observations of Head, Rivers, and Sherren upon the nature of cutaneous sensation and its division into various types of sensitivity was derived from a study made upon the division of a cutaneous nerve in Head's forearm. This was done by Sherren. They described two sorts of sensitivity, namely, one of a delicate discriminatory sort (epicritic) and another of a vague coarse type of sensation (protopathic). Head and Sherren investigated the sensory qualities of the gastro-intestinal mucous membrane. They showed that ice-cold water and water at 50 C, introduced directly through gastrostomy and colostomy openings would give rise to sensations of cold and warmth usually in the region of the umbilicus. They finally concluded that the oesophagus and anal canal are always sensitive to heat and cold, the stomach rarely so, and the colon to a very limited extent.

They believed that most pain in visceral disease is referred and not direct. Head and Sherren showed that the afferent fibres running with motor nerves when stimulated by pressure cause pain and painful contractions of muscles. In peritonitis the nerves themselves are directly affected by the inflammation of the parietal peritoneum. This is the cause of the widespread rigidity of the abdominal wall in diffuse peritonitis. Sherren made a special study of the prognosis and treatment of brachial plexus, birth injuries, and the so-called Erb-Duchenne paralysis. He considered that the prognosis is on the whole favourable, but that unless improvement is evident within 3 months of delivery complete recovery rare.

Albert John Ochsner, who had been born Wisconsin and claimed to be directly descended from

Vesalius, was Professor of Clinical Surgery in the

- Page 14 -


University of Illinois. In 1902 he published a Handbook -of Appendicitis, in which he advocated the delayed treatment of this disease. At the same time Sherren championed the cause of the delayed treatment of appendicitis in this country and trained his assistants in its principles. In the Practitioner of June, 1905, he wrote: 'If we are able to see a case within the first 34 to 36 hours when the disease is probably limited to the appendix, operation should be performed and the appendix removed. After this most favourable time has passed I am strongly of the opinion that if possible we should wait until the attack is over and remove the appendix in a quiescent period in three months' time.' He emphasized that this method of treatment, which has come to be known as the Ochsner-Sherren regime, must only be undertaken in a hospital with a fully staffed theatre available at all times in case the patient's condition showed signs of deteriorating and an operation had to be undertaken without delay.


Sherren's Triangle

Sherren's Triangle

Sherren's description of the appendix triangle, which is outlined by lines joining the summit of the iliac crest, the pubic tubercle, and the umbilicus, refers to an area of skin hyperaesthesia met with in obstructive appendicitis and indicates that the appendix is distended and may burst at any moment. This is a certain indication for immediate surgery. This observation was one of the outcomes of the research he had carried out with Sir Henry Head on the problem of cutaneous hypersensitivity in visceral disease.

With the passage of time Sherren became more and more interested in abdominal surgery. At first he was a follower of Sir Frederick Treves who had performed the first properly recorded appendicectomy in the London Hospital in 1887, but on the early death in 1908 of Harold Barnard, a surgeon of the highest promise who had written the classic description of subdiaphragmatic abscess, Sherren decided to confine himself largely to abdominal surgery, which was then a rapidly growing speciality, and he quickly made an outstanding reputation.

His predominant surgical interest became the treatment of duodenal ulcer. This condition had first been treated by Codivilla in 1893 by the operation of gastrojejunostomy. During the early years of this century this procedure was developed in great measure by Moynihan, W. J. Mayo, and Sherren.

It is interesting to record Sherren's own description of the operation written in 1911: -

'The abdomen should be opened by displacing the right rectus muscle. The ulcer is usually found on the anterior surface of the first part of the duodenum. The peritoneum over it presents a speckled reddish appearance and a definite induration can be felt between the examining finger and the thumb. There may be adhesions binding the duodenum to the gall bladder and liver.

Sir Frederick Treves

Sir Frederick Treves in his earlier years.

In every case the appendix and gall bladder should be examined and treated if necessary. After examining the stomach for signs of ulcer, a posterior vertical no loop gastrojejunostomy should be carried out. That this is sufficient in most cases is shown not only by the long series recorded in which absolute relief of symptoms occurred, but by demonstration at a second operation performed later for some other condition.'

This operation was generally regarded at the time as giving extremely good results. Shortly before his retirement Sherren reported 537 cases of duodenal ulcer that he had operated on with 10 deaths. At about the same time Moynihan reported 563 cases with a mortality-rate of 0.53 percent, and at the Mayo Clinic in the period 1914-19, 2734 cases were recorded with a mortality-rate of just 1 percent.

In 1921 Sherren published a series of lectures on the stomach and duodenum, and was responsible for the chapters on the stomach and duodenum in Choyce's System of Surgery.

In addition to numerous operative procedures, Sherren devised a retrocolic anterior gastrojejunostomy of special use in relieving the symptoms in cases of inoperable carcinoma of the stomach. Donald Balfour of the Mayo Clinic made much use of this procedure.

- Page 15 -

844 BRIT. J. SURG., I973, Vol. 60, No. 11, NOVEMBER

Sherren's success as an abdominal surgeon created a great impression on the medical profession all over the world. His very distinguished colleague Sir Robert Hutchison, later to be President of the Royal College of Physicians, on whom he had successfully operated for a duodenal ulcer, spoke of him in these words: 'He was, perhaps with the exception of Moynihan, the best abdominal surgeon of his day, and not a few of his colleagues owed much to his care and professional skill.' I am grateful to Sir Peter Hutchison, Sir Robert's son, for this helpful information. He confirms his father's high regard for the professional ability of Sherren and mentions that in 1907 his mother and Mrs. Sherren used to go for carriage drives together when they were expecting their first babies.


Sophia Ward

Sophia Ward as it was in Sherren's time.

Amongst his junior colleagues who had developed the greatest regard for him was Russell Howard, who in time was to become one of the most distinguished surgical teachers this country has produced. Sherren was an excellent diagnostician and a meticulously careful surgeon. His punctuality was proverbial and if he was due at the London Hospital at 2 p.m. the hall porter clocked him in at 1.59 p.m. with the greatest regularity. As a student I can remember waiting in the front hall for his arrival. He would step out of his car, walk into the front hall, shake hands with his registrar and house surgeon, and then, followed by the firm, walk to the staff room where he put on a white coat and emerge to commence his ward round in Sophia Ward just after 2 p.m. He expected his dressers to be exactly on time for all his ward rounds. I must quote from a letter from Dr. William Evans who was on his firm. He says: 'My old chief was a brilliant operator and never once late for an appointment whether to meet his equals or his betters or his humble dressers.'

James Sherren was frequently consulted by Miss Eva Luekes, a remarkable woman who was Matron of the London Hospital for 39 years, on the problems of the training and education of the student nurses, matters in which he was intensely interested. For many years he was Surgeon to the Nursing Staff and performed numerous operations on our nurses. At this time sick nurses were admitted to Upper Wards, and the Sister in charge had the intriguing idea of getting every nurse that Mr. Sherren had operated on to embroider a special scarf with her initials. This scarf was presented to Mr. Sherren on his retirement. After his death it was given to the London Hospital where I was able to trace it in the Archives.

At the Royal College of Surgeons Sherren played a very active part. In 1906 he was Erasmus Lecturer in Surgical Pathology and in 1909 he became an examiner in anatomy for the Primary Fellowship examination. In 1917 he was elected to the Council of the College. In 1920 as a Hunterian Professor he delivered a lecture on: 'Late results of the surgical treatment of chronic ulcers of the stomach and duodenum'. This lecture was published in the Lancet on 27 March, 1920. He served as a member of the Court of Examiners from 1921 to 1923 and in 1925 was Bradshaw Lecturer. His subject for this lecture was 'Gastrojejunostomy '. This lecture was also published in the Lancet on I4 Nov., I925. Mr. Sherren was elected Vice-President of the College in 1925 and 1926. In the University of London he served as an examiner in surgery for the final medical degrees and for the Mastership in Surgery. He was also a member of the Senate of the University.

During the First World War he served with the rank of Colonel in the Army Medical Service as a

consultant surgeon attached to the War Office, as surgeon to the King George Military Hospital and to the King Edward VII Hospital for Officers, and as consulting surgeon to the Yarrow Military Hospital at Broadstairs. In I9I9 he was honoured by being made a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

- Page 16 -



At the summit of his career when he had become a full surgeon to the London Hospital his private practice was enormous. He practised at 6 Devonshire Place and most of his private operating work was done at Fitzroy House which was almost his own nursing home. His numerous famous private patients included Sir Pelham Warner, the emminent cricketer, who referred to him with great gratitude in his biography.

Sherren was a man who owed his advancement to sheer ability and strength of character. For many years whenever he operated his theatre would be crowded with visiting surgeons from

No.2 Operating Theatre

3083.33 No.2 Operating Theatre, London Hospital, London E.

Operating theatre No. 2 that Sherren worked in at one time

abroad, particularly from the United States of America, who had come to witness his great technical skill. It was at this time, before green operating kit had become popular, that Sherren gave instructions that the dressers on his firm should wear green caps in the theatre so that he could easily recognize them when he was operating and direct questions to them. These caps were changed to blue after some years.

Sherren had greatly impressed Lord Knutsford, that greatest of all hospital chairmen and affectionately known as the 'Prince of Beggars', who presided over the hospital's destiny from 1896 to 1933. I well remember when I was a junior student seeing Lord Knutsford and Mr. Sherren walking along a corridor arm in arm in deep and earnest conversation.

Amongst his many gifts Sherren was an accomplished violinist. Sir James Walton, who had been his registrar and on whom the mantle of Sherren descended, spoke of him in the following terms: 'As a chief Jimmy Sherren, as he was affectionately known, was a little frightening but very invigorating. Slackness and slipshod work were intolerable to him and he did not mind saying so. But he liked to be stood up to and respected the sharp retort. In the conventional sense he was ambitious, but his ambition was not of the selfish kind. He wanted the work he was responsible for to be done supremely well. There was a burning zeal about the way he worked and there was something inspiring about that restless, incredibly efficient small man with the sailor's rolling gait.'

He was unceasing in his search for truth. One of his distinguished colleagues has said that it was when he became to know him socially that he realized that there was a great humility about him, coupled with a streak of kindliness which he was very reluctant to show.

It must always be remembered that this great surgeon was working in the days before the discovery of penicillin and the other antibiotics, and he did not have the benefits of modern anaesthesia, pathological and radiological investigations, and the advances in blood transfusion.

In 1926 at the height of his career when he had gained a reputation not only in Britain but throughout the civilized world which he shared only with Lord Moynihan of Leeds, Finisterer of Vienna, and Balfour of the Mayo Clinic he suddenly decided to retire.

Sir Henry Souttar has described the dramatic fashion in which he took his leave of the London Hospital: 'One afternoon when he had finished his operating list, he took off his gloves and said to his senior theatre technician, Macgowan: "Well, goodbye, that was my last operation." He shook hands with everyone in the theatre and then, having changed in the surgeon's room, he went down in the lift alone.

'In the front hall waiting for him was Sir Ernest Morris, the House Governor, the only man who knew that he had resigned, holding his hat and coat. The hall porter came forward to turn off his light on the board, but Sherren waved him away, stood for a moment looking at his name, and then himself turned off the switch. He shook hands with Ernest Morris, and then left the scene of his surgical triumphs for ever'.

- Page 17 -

846 BRIT. J. SURG., I973, Vol. 60, No. 11, NOVEMBER

Within a few days of resigning from the staff of the London Hospital he left the Council of the Royal College of Surgeons. Sir Hugh Lett, later to be President of the Royal College of Surgeons, was elected to his vacancy on the Council. Just as he had entered the London Hospital he left it dramatically. What the overwhelming urge was no one knows. Probably he felt again the call of the sea and was determined to answer it while still of an age to enjoy it.

I personally have no doubt that Mr. Sherren had had in mind the idea of returning to the sea as a ship's surgeon for a long time; a possible factor that may have influenced him was the 20-year rule that was in force at the London Hospital at that time. As far as I can determine he became a senior on a firm in 1911. This meant that he would have to retire from the staff in 1931 after 20 years as a senior, at the age of 59 years of age. He may have felt that it would be difficult to start a new life as a ship's surgeon at this age and this may have led him to decide to retire 5 years earlier at 54. He could leave surgery with the satisfaction of knowing that seldom, if ever, had any man accomplished so much and advanced so far in the short 30 years or so that he had devoted to it.

Returning to his country home overlooking Poole Harbour he found that even here he was unable to rest on land, and so within a few months of retiring from the London Hospital staff, he went back to the sea as a ship's doctor, where he was able to do much to better the conditions of the marine medical service. He served as a ship's surgeon for the P. & 0., the Orient, and the Cunard lines until shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War.

Soon after my own appointment to the consultant staff of the London Hospital in 1934 the staff gave a dinner at the old Langham Hotel in honour of Mr. Sherren, who had just returned from a trip to Australia as a ship's surgeon. My memory of him at this time was that he was a very impressive-looking man with a fine head of white hair and a fresh complexion.

In his speech replying to the toast of his health he told an amusing story. Shortly before the liner entered port he was called to see an elderly wealthy lady in her cabin. He gave her some advice about her abdominal trouble. She was loath to accept this. 'Doctor,' she said, 'thank you for seeing me, but I think I will wait until we land when I will consult a proper specialist.' It happened that the local medical association had heard that the ship's doctor of the incoming liner was the world-famous surgeon, James Sherren. They sent a deputation on board to welcome him and he was seen receiving them on the deck by the lady patient who was being taken on shore by stretcher. On inquiring she was told who the ship's doctor really was. As soon as she was settled in a nursing home she sent him a message of apology for her unwitting discourtesy, and begged him to call on her. He did so the next day, taking her a bunch of flowers.

He told of another amusing incident when he was summoned to see a lady patient in her cabin. It turned out that she was an old private patient who had paid him a large fee for an abdominal operation in London. She was indignant to find that after all he was only a ship's surgeon. His closing years were lived at White Barn, Broadstone, in Dorset, where he was able to indulge in his hobby of sailing and his favourite relaxations of golf and playing the violin.

During the Second World War he served on the staff of the local hospital and he died on 29 Oct., 1945, 2 days before his birthday, after a long illness, at the age of 73. And so passed a figure memorable in the long story of the London Hospital. His life had been full, active, and varied, during the course of which he had earned the respect and admiration of all with whom he had worked and the real affection of his friends. While Britain breeds such men her position in surgery remains assured.

- Page 18 -



Copy of Notes, probably for a Lecture at The Royal College of Surgeons in 1934.

On August 1886, at the age of 13 years and 9 months, I sailed from the East Float, Birkenhead. on the new four-masted ship, the Falls of Halladale, loaded with salt and bound for Calcutta, One of the principal exports in those days from Liverpool was salt. The Falls of Halladale, the Crofton Hall and the Loch ?Caron with at least 10,000 tons of salt sailed within 48 hours of each other. In Calcutta, hatches sealed, Customs Officers onboard, the ships were used as bonded warehouses until all the salt was sold.

On April 9th 1926, nearly 40 years later, I returned to the sea, sailing from Tilbury Docks as a Surgeon in an Australian mail boat.

My working life has fallen into three periods, the first as an apprentice and officer in sail and steam, the middle period as a medical student and on the surgical staff of The London Hospital, and lastly, the last and present period, again the sea, but on the medical side. It is with the first and last periods that I shall deal chiefly,

I have often pondered on what shapes our careers are formed by environment in many cases stronger than that of heredity. I myself was brought up in an atmosphere redolent of the sea. My playground was a shipyard and I was in a boat almost as soon as I could walk. I was launched on the last wooden ship built in Dorset for the foreign trade - the Galatea - for the Newfoundland fish trade. My earliest recollections are all of the sea. My father and various uncles were, or had been, at sea.

On looking up old papers the other day, I came upon an Agreement made in August 1862 in which my father was apprenticed to the Master of the barque Waterlily of Poole (350 tons) for a premium of 25 guineas for a voyage to New Zealand and elsewhere. I have often wondered who were her owners and thought of the difference between the Poole of then and now. The Waterlily was smaller than most yachts on which the wealthy cruise. She reached Nelson in 112 days, and I was interested to read this comment in her log - "Nelson is a sweet orderly little place - the whole of the houses are built of wood in consequence of the frequent shocks of earthquake". From Nelson they sailed to Lyttleton, thence to Callao, which took them 50 days - then on to Inquique Island to load guano for Mauritius, where she was lost in a cyclone.

Listening to all my father's tales of the sea it is little wonder that I struck work at school and insisted, at a time when most boys are juniors

- Page 19 -

at their public schools, on leaving and launching out for myself. It was a great disappointment to me that none of my boys evinced the least desire to go to sea. Heredity was there, both on my side and on their mother's, but their surroundings were different and their first recollections were of London streets - a far call from the sea. Heredity has only helped in that they are all handy in a boat and not seasick.

I was fortunate to be at sea in what were still the great days of sail. There were still many wooden ships afloat and, although the later ones were of iron or steel, they were still sailing ships. "Wooden ships and Iron men" was a familiar saying: and a true one.

Ships, except for the division of the huge topsails into double topsail - and the division of the enormous man-killing jib into inner and outer - were much as they had been in Elizabethan days. Certainly any of the old seamen could have found his way about in the dark and put his hand on any of the gear. The arrangement and leads of the ropes were the same. The poop was still the holy of holies. The large mid-ship poops, so called, had not yet come in and the masts were still tall. They had not yet been cut down to stump t'gallant masts. This was done in a tentative way in 1887, and first called ?Jubilee rig. It became extremely common in the late '90s, when competition with steam became keen and every labour saving device was introduced. The Falls of Halladale was a lofty ship with two skysails, and the last ship launched on the Clyde with stunsails. The final boom in sailing ship construction started in 1588 and lasted five or six years. It saw the phenominal rise of Russell & Co, who, between 1890 and 1895, must have turned out 30 large ships a year. The name has long disappeared on the Clyde but the yard carries on as Lithgow & Son. James Lithgow, the present head of the firm, is not only a great shipbuilder but an eminent figure in the business world, and Chairman of the Federation of British Industries.

From about 1896 construction diminished, but ships were still being built for such enthusiastic owners as Hardie. He has only. ceased ship owning with the sale of his last ship the Archibald Russell, in 1921. I went on board her in 1927 in Melbourne, and a book "Horizon" has recently been published giving an account of her voyage home last year. It is written by an Australian journalist and gives a very vivid account of sea-fairing in sail nowadays. She was the last deep water sailing ship built in this country in 1905. Stewart of London sold their last two ships "Monteberra"(?) and "William Mitchell" in 1926 and '27. The last ship to fly the Red Ensign was the "Garthpool" lost in the Azores last year. She was owned by Sir William Garthwaite of Montreal, who at one time bought up several

- Page 20 -

English ships and re-named them with the pre-fix "Garth".

There has been much enthusiasm shown lately about the vanished sailing ships and many books have been written on the subject. "Horizon" is one, and "By Way of Cane Horn" another. This gives a lively account of a voyage round the Horn and a man's impression of the hardships encountered. I can assure you that what he describes was accepted as commonplace in my day. We were always soaked to the skin and always hungry - but we were sailors. Another thing that amuses me is the broadcasting of sea shanties! They are usually harmonized out of all recognition and sung to a rhythm that would have made the officers of the Watch explode into blasphemy. The words are, of course, expurgated, as shanties as sailors sing them would hardly be suitable for broadcasting.

It is tragic that the British, who are still the greatest maritime nation in the world, have no sailing ships in which to train their seamen. No other form of training in seamanship is comparable or indeed adequate, but the chief obstacle to this is economic. The nautical press speaks with the same voice. "It is a thousand pities that the British lad has nowadays no chance of beginning his seaman's life in a sailing ship. There is no finer school for sailor-men. It is strange indeed that Great Britain, the premier maritime nation, should not possess a sea-going square-rigged cadet ship. The importance of training in sail is fully appreciated on the Continent." Our Trinity House pilots for the Thames have to go in foreign ships to learn their work. The Finns have a large fleet; the Swedes have recently bought another ship for sail training. The Danes, Belgians, French all own them and the Germans own a fine fleet - the Preswall, Peking and Pamir etc., all trading to the West Coast of South America to bring home nitrate and making fine passages round the Horn. Many nations, Finns, Danes, Swedes, Norwegians insist on sailing ship experience for their officers' exams. In view of our wealth ship-owners' niggardly attitude in spending money, it is scarcely surprising that medical conditions at sea can only be described as primitive. The letter of the B.O.T. regulations is scantily adhered to.

I want first to try to describe to you a few of the salient features of life at sea in the '80s, particularly those that have any medical aspect.

It is difficult for me to give you any idea of our life in those days that will not seem exaggerated. A community of 20 to 40 males was isolated entirely for periods of from 90 to 180 days, or even longer. News of the outside world was confined to chance signalings from passing ships. One occasionally heard startling news in this way. For example, on June 30th 1888 when 107 days out from Calcutta to New York, after experiencing the most appalling weather off the Cape during which we were hove to with only

- Page 21 -

a boat sail in the jigger rigging - we signaled the "Sierra Parema" (?) of Liverpool, one of the "white-blocked majestic Sierras" as Masefield called them. (They were painted grey with white blocks and yards, and owned by Thompson Anderson, long gone). She was 108 days out from Rangoon to Hamburg and reported having put in to Cape Town with decks swept by the hurricane of 22nd May. The Cape papers of May 22nd reported terrific weather with many ships and lives lost and that the German Emperor was dead and that European affairs were in a most unsettled condition. We had plenty to talk about but did not know which ships had come through. Later, we read in the Liverpool Journal of Commerce that the only one of eight ships to survive the hurricane was the Falls of Halladale - the others having foundered with all hands. This was not true as "Sierra(?) survived, also Loch Torridon and Tweed (?). But of 7 ships which were lost with all hands one - a Shaw Savill - was commanded by and uncle of mine. On another occasion, May 18th 1887 - Maj(?) of Liverpool, signaled us in the Bay of Bengal that the Falls of B(?) was lost with all hands in the South Sea on September 2nd in a gale in which we were nearly lost on Bishops Rock.

My longest passage was 168 days from Calcutta to New York during which we only once saw land.

I have a cutting from the Pall Mall Gazette giving details of our loss at sea and my name amongst the missing.

We were fated to suffer hurricanes off here (where) for on July 16th 1889 when we were on our beam ends we saw the Bolan (?) disappear. She left Calcutta eleven days before us, great pals of ours, who said when we arrived both bound for London, that she would be towing us outward bound for the Colonies, as we called Australia in those days. B. O. T. enquiry at Liverpool on May 12th 1890 found to have been lost with all hands in the hurricane of July 16th 1899. She was built in 1892 by Oswald Mordaunt at Southampton. It is curious to recollect now that many fine ships with Liverpool owners were built there - some for Brocklebank, most of Leylands and some of Bates. They left Southampton for Milford Haven in 1890 and only built three or four after that.

This was by no means the only long passage that the Falls of Halladale made. The voyage after I left she was 187 days to San Francisco. After this she was bought by Thos. Laird of Glasgow under command of David Thompson she took 237 days. On this occasion she turned tail off the Horn and went the other way (1903 - 1904).

The apprentices lived in a house on deck - the so-called half-deck - between the mitten mast and the after hatch. This was a very wet place. Our

- Page 22 -

sea chests were our tables and chairs and we hung our hook pots for coffee and tea from our bunks. An iron water tank and a locker with three shelves and six bunks were our furnishings. In bad weather there was no ventilation. The skylight and port were caulked up and the door, of course, shut. Our crew then was ten A. Bs., two 0.S. and watch - bo'sun, carpenter, cook, Sailmaker. Captain, three officers (mates) and five apprentices, 38 all-told. To show you how things changed later, her sister ship Falls of C. sold to Hal. Cameron, was run with 24 all-told, including apprentices. I have talked to MacFarlane her Captain then, eight years ago- of course she was down. For my first two voyages we had wholly British crews so that I came to know the real British seaman.

Food was on the strict Board of Trade scale even for the premium apprentices. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, salt pork, fish sometimes, but usually uneatable. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays it was salt beef or tinned mutton with haricot beans. Sometimes we had pea-soup or bean-soup. Sundays it was salt beef with potatoes or rice, but no fresh food at all. Then we were issued 1/4 lb. flour each twice a week and 1/2 lb. butter every 14 days with 3/4 lb. marmalade. There was no jam and no condensed milk. We had 14 oz. sugar to sweeten our milkless tea. Breakfast was tea and hard biscuits with butter, if there was any. In spite of this poor diet we boys managed to grow and thrive. We occasionally supplemented our food by a raid on the Cabin stores, and we were expert at that! Lime juice was served out each day at 12 by the steward at the after-hatch, and he watched it drunk. Sour and acid stuff it was. I have never seen a case of scurvy at sea myself, though I heard much about it.

Our life alternated between work and sleep, 4 hours on and 4 hours off all the time, so that we young lads never had as much sleep as we wanted. The only lighting we had was the same as the crew and that was a slush lamp to burn the "slush" from the pork and beef. It was shaped like a small coffee pot with the wick emerging from the spout. When we carried cargoes of case oil from New York we bought ourselves a proper lamp and supplied ourselves with oil by banging two cases together until the tins inside leaked.

Our allowance of water was 3 quarts a day for the five of us. Half of this went to the cook for soup, tea and coffee. The rest had to suffice for drinking and for washing ourselves and our clothes, so that unless we had a heavy rain there was little washing done. The fresh water pump was in the waist of the ship; quite impossible to get to in really bad weather. The galley fire, too, would not burn, so that we had no hot food under stormy conditions.

In my last voyage in sail as second mate we were 6 weeks rounding the Horn. That is 40 degree S. Atlantic to 40 degree S. Pacific in winter. We used to heave her to with a main trysail which set over the galley funnel, its head hauled out

- Page 23 -

three hanks on the mizzen topmast stay. It set right over the galley funnel and for days at a time we got no hot food. Tobacco was our great comfort when awake and we were never without it - either for smoking or more often chewing. In 12 months my bill was for 40 lbs. of tobacco. In spite of this mode of life - exposure, chill, unsuitable food, medical illnesses were unknown practically. We never caught colds or chills and never suffered from rheumatism, although we had to turn in wet-through and turn out steaming! However, colds were prevalent enough on reaching port, even in the tropics. The only medical illness I can remember is malaria, and the captain gave me my first lesson in dispensing by showing me how to dissolve Quin Sulph. Many of the captains were proud of their medical skill and were expert with a catheter and at tooth extraction. In bad weather malingering "Cape Horn Fever" was not unknown. One Captain I was with - a huge heavy man 6'5" tall - went into the fo'csle and lifted out a malingering seaman, bed and bedding and chucked him into the lee scuppers. It cured him and prevented others taking to their bunks.

Accidents, of course, were common. I saw my first compound fracture of the femur off the Horn. I remember his name - Gatgey(?) - and he did well. In bad weather crushes and scalp wounds were common. I had many minor ones. An amputation of the top joint of a crushed finger. A gashed forehead sewn up by the Captain. I suppose I got Erys (?) for my face was swollen and I couldn't see. However, I was well when we reached New Zealand 35 days later. Not a comfortable experience. The sea in those days was no place for a weakling; the life was really hard. There was a saying in those days "Those who go to sea for pleasure would go to Hell for a pastime."

I owe my first promotion to the fact that the 3rd mate couldn't keep the hands in order by the only method recognized by the hands in those days.

The ship lived to a fair age. On November 14th l903, when 22 years old, she stranded at Curdies Inlet (?), Victoria and became a total loss. Her jigger topmast forms the flagstaff in front of the residence on a ranch that I visited, and they still have a sewing machine washed ashore from her.

Sail trained sailors, if they escaped the hazards of the sea, were a long-lived race. It was only last year that the last of the tea-clipper captains died and also the last famous captain of the Cutty Sark, Woodget, died and we must remember that she was sold to the Portuguese in 1895. The captain of the Waverly (?) lived to be nearly 90. I saw him in command of the Harbinger (?) at the age of 80. My first captain lived to be 90. Of those who served their time with me, five, all except one, are fit and well, and he lost his life - torpedoed in the war. One is Master in Trade, one is U. Castle, one is ashore and one I met, most unexpectedly, during my late voyage to Sydney.


I do not think that nowadays the health of seamen is as good as it was in those days. But one must remember that under this heading is included stewards, deck stewards, waiters, painters, gardeners etc., A seaman's life now needs little stamina, and in the modern luxurious ships with sheltered bridges, one need never get wet. Housing conditions are better, but we are far behind the Scandinavians and Germans, although in some of our high-class cargo boats, the food is much better than it is in the mail boats. In the mail boats, I have seen 60 to 70 stewards berthed in one glory hole. The ports could never be opened at sea and their life is appalling, first, no security of tenure except heads of departments, off pay the minute port is reached; at sea, long hours and meals taken standing up. Their sickness rate is the highest, deck hands the lowest, with engineer room staff in between.

After being 2nd mate in sail, I left the sea, as we used to say, and joined the Natal line as third mate in steam. I had a varied experience there, including two trips with coolie immigrants from Calcutta and Madras to the Cape - a lucrative job for the third as we were paid 1/- a head for all landed alive. The doctor got 5/- a head.

It was in this Company that I first made the acquaintance of ships' surgeons and heard the saying that there was only one thing lower, and that was surgeons in the Island of Perim. Those of you who have passed it in June or July will realize what it means. I believe in those days their lives were not long. In Liverpool ships doctors who wanted a ship used to congregate in a certain pub and when one was needed a clerk from the Shipping Office would put his head in and say "Doctor wanted for such and such a ship" and the next on call would go. The first ship's surgeon I was with used to get D. T. 's on leaving port as a matter of course. We used to lash him in a hammock and sling it from the after derricks. He was quite safe there!

Unfortunately, that type still exists at sea. The man who relieved me in my first ship in 1926 retired to his bunk with bottles of brandy and whisky on leaving Gravesend and did not reappear until the Bay. He then fell from C to D Deck into the emigrants' quarters and was then assisted to his bunk where he stayed until he was put ashore at Toulon, the Captain having called for a relief. I became very friendly with a young Edinburgh graduate we had as ship's surgeon - his end was tragic. Perhaps it was he who first put the medical idea into my head.

To revert to my early days in steam. It was a tradition in those days that If no surgeon was carried the 2nd mate should be in charge of the medicine chest, and it was so in many cargo ships of today. If the ship carried a surgeon then the 2nd mate assisted him. This was how I came to administer my first anaesthetic - chloroform - then, as now, the best anaesthetic for general use at sea. This was for the removal of an eyeball. Then again, a few days later when discharging cargo at night with our own winches at Delagoa Bay into lighters, a man slipped and got caught round the barrel of the winch, and suffered compound

- Page 25 -

Sherren's of the World

Presented by: Dave Hunter, The Island Register, and Joseph C. Sherren.

Last Updated: 5/23/99 5:50:40 AM
Return to Top!
Return to Main Page!