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Royal College of Physicians

GARROD, Sir Archibald Edward (1857-1936)


Reference code(s): GB 0113 MS-GARRA

Held at: Royal College of Physicians

Title: GARROD, Sir Archibald Edward (1857-1936)

Date(s): c.1877 (photocopy of c.1877 document)

Level of description: Collection (fonds)

Extent: 1 file

Name of creator(s): Garrod | Sir | Archibald Edward | 1857-1936 | physician and scientist


Administrative/Biographical history:

Archibald Edward Garrod was born on 25 November 1857 in London, the fourth and youngest son of Sir Alfred Baring Garrod, physician to King's College Hospital, London. Garrod was educated at Marlborough and Christ Church, Oxford, where he studied natural science and obtained a first class honours degree in 1880. He received his medical training at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, where he qualified MRCS in 1884. Garrod spent the winter of 1884-85 in Vienna in post-graduate study at the Allgemeines Krankenhaus, renowned for its excellent teaching. In 1885 he obtained his BM, MA, Oxford, and MRCP, London.

Upon returning from Vienna he became a house physician at St Bartholomew's. He also worked as physician to the Marylebone General Dispensary, and assistant physician to the West London Hospital. He became casualty physician at St Bartholomew's in 1889 and then assistant physician in 1903. He was elected Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1891. Garrod was in charge of the Children's Department at St Bartholomew's, with Dr Herbert Morley Fletcher, from 1904-10, and lectured on chemical pathology. He eventually became full physician there in 1912. Garrod also joined the visiting staff of Great Ormond Street Hospital, as elected assistant physician in 1892, becoming full physician there in 1899, and the Alexandra Hospital for Children with Hip Disease.

Garrod authored and contributed to a number of publications throughout his professional career. Whilst his earlier works were mainly of a clinical character, his later ones were of a biochemical nature. In 1886 he wrote An Introduction to the Use of the Laryngoscope (1886) and in 1890, based on his work at the West London Hospital, A Treatise on Rheumatism and Rheumatoid Arthritis (1890). In later years he drew a further distinction by classifying osteoarthritis separately (his father had previously differentiated rheumatoid arthritis from gout) in an article he contributed to Sir Thomas Clifford Albutt's System of Medicine (1907).

Garrod was one of those, alongside Sir William Osler, physician and medical educator, who was instrumental in forming the Association of the Physicians of Great Britain. Its purpose was to facilitate the publishing of a new type of medical journal, to record fundamental research that perhaps had no immediate clinical application. In 1907 then he joined the editorial board of the Quarterly Journal of Medicine, remaining on the board for twenty years, and contributing to the journal throughout his life. He also made contributions to the Journal of Pathology and the Proceedings of the Royal Society. He was co-editor of the first edition of Diseases of Children (1913), with F.E. Batten and Hugh Thursfield.

Garrod is best known however for his original work on chemical pathology, reported in scientific journals and in his lectures. Indeed the Croonian Lectures, entitled `Inborn Errors of Metabolism', were delivered to the Royal College of Physicians in 1908, and a revised edition was subsequently published in 1909. This was arguably his most important work (Hart, 1949, p.164). Garrod was `a born investigator' (Munk's Roll, Vol. IV, p.348), and had begun his work on this subject up to ten years before the publication, carrying out extensive, original laboratory research. He had begun by researching urinary chemistry, which led to his investigating alkaptonuria, whereby passed urine turns black on standing. Garrod's break through was considering the possibility that the condition was caused by a metabolic error, and his research thus developed to investigating metabolism behind urinary abnormalities, and so the now established idea of the gene-enzyme-reaction sequence. He pointed to the idea of metabolic variation, what he called 'chemical individuality', and that essentially the information for producing specific enzymes in humans is inherited.

During the First World War Garrod left St Bartholomew's to serve on the staff of the 1st London General Hospital at Camberwell, and then, in 1915, he was promoted to the rank of temporary colonel in the Army Medical Service. He was sent to Malta where he was consulting physician to the Mediterranean forces until 1919. For his services during the war he was appointed CMG in 1916, and KCMG in 1918.

He returned to St Bartholomew's in 1919 where he was chosen to be the first director of the new Medical Unit. However before he had been in position for a year he was nominated Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford, succeeding Osler, where he remained for seven years. He was active in university affairs, being appointed a Statutory Commissioner for the University in 1922, and was a member of the Hebdomadal Council, the 21 members of which formed the governing body of the University. He was also appointed consulting physician at the Radcliffe Infirmary. Between 1923-28 Garrod was also a member of the Medical Research Council.

Garrod was honoured with many distinctions throughout his career. In 1910 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, of which he became Vice-President, 1926-28. He gave many eponymous lectures including the Lettsonian Lecture, given to the Medical Society of London in 1912, the Linacre Lecture at Cambridge in 1923, and in 1924 he addressed the Royal College of Physicians again, when he gave the Harveian Oration. At the Charing Cross Hospital he gave the Huxley Lecture on `Diathesis' in 1927, which was published in a fuller form as The Inborn Factors in Disease (1931). In 1931 he was elected honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh. Abroad he was made honorary member of the American Association of Physicians, and of the Artzlicher Verein, Munich. He received honorary degrees from the universities of Aberdeen, Dublin, Glasgow, Malta, and Padua. In 1935, at the age of 78, he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Society of Medicine.

Garrod married Laura Elisabeth Smith, eldest daughter of Sir Thomas Smith, surgeon to St Bartholomew's, in 1886. They had three sons and one daughter; all three sons died young, all in the course of the First World War, two in action and the other of influenzal pneumonia. After resigning his chair at Oxford, in 1927, he and his wife lived at Melton, Suffolk until 1930, and then in Cambridge, with his daughter, where he died after a short illness, on 28 March 1936.

The Nebulae: A Fragment of Astronomical History (Oxford, 1882)
An Introduction to the Use of the Laryngoscope (1886)
A Treatise on Rheumatism and Rheumatoid Arthritis (1890)
A Handbook of Medical Pathology, for the Use of Students in the Museum of St Bartholomew's Hospital (1894), with Sir W.P. Herringham & W.J. Gow
A Treatise on Cholelithiasis, Bernhard Naunyn, translated by Garrod (London, 1896)
Clinical Diagnosis, Rudolf Von Jaksch, edited by Garrod (London, 5th ed., 1905)
Inborn Errors of Metabolism (1909)
Diseases of Children (1913), with F.E. Batten & Hugh Thursfield
The Inborn Factors of Disease (1931)
Papers for the Journal of Pathology and the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Publications by others about Garrod:
The Garrods, Caspar Rutz (Zurich, 1970)
Archibald Garrod and the Individuality of Man, Alexander Gordon Bearn (Oxford, 1993)
The Role of Nature and Nurture in Common Diseases: Garrod's Legacy, Sir David John Weatherall (London, 1992)


Scope and content/abstract:

Garrod's notes on Salicylate of Soda, c.1877 (photocopy).


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

Single file

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

All requests should be referred to the Archivist

Physical characteristics:

Finding aids:


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Donated by Dr W.S.C. Copeman, March 1970


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

There is correspondence with Garrod within the College's own records, regarding the Murchison Scholarship, 1893 (MS1004/12), and the revision of the Nomenclature of Diseases, 1915 (MS2141/4 k; MS2141/4 m).

Publication note:



Archivist's note: Sources: The Roll of the Royal College of Physicians of London, 1826-1925, compiled by G.H. Brown (London, 1955) [Munk's Roll, vol. IV, pp.347-48]; Dictionary of National Biography, 1931-40, L.G. Wickham Legg (ed.) (London, 1949) [DNB, 1931-1940, pp.308-9]; `The Life and Works of Sir Archibald Garrod, Part I & Part II', C.J.R. Hart, St Bartholomew's Hospital Journal, August 1949, pp.160-65 & September 1949, pp.186-90; `The Wix Essay, Archibald Garrod', Chris Levy, St Bartholomew's Hospital Journal, Autumn, 1980.
Compiled by Katharine Williams

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives, Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: Compiled March 2003; Modified September 2003


Personal names
Garrod | Sir | Archibald Edward | 1857-1936 | Knight | physician and scientist

Corporate names