Obituary: John Pearce

John Dalziel Wyndham Pearce, physician in psychological medicine; born Edinburgh 21 February 1904; Senior Assistant Medical Officer and Assistant Pathologist, City Mental Hospital, Leicester 1930-36; Medico-psychologist, Stamford House Remand Home 1936-46; served RAMC 1939-1945; Consultant Psychiatrist, Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children, 1947-69; Medical Director, Portman Clinic (Institute for the Scientific Treatment of Delinquency) 1947-52; Assistant Physician, Department of Psychological Medicine, St Mary's Hospital, London 1948-52; Lecturer in Psychiatry, London University, 1952-69; Physician-in-Charge, Department of Psychological Medicine, St Mary's Hospital, London 1953-69; Consultant Psychiatrist, Royal Masonic Hospital 1957-69; Member, Home Secretary's Advisory Council on Treatment of Offenders 1960-69; Examiner, Royal College of Physicians of London 1962-1971; married 1929 Grace Fowler (marriage dissolved 1964), 1964 Elizabeth Draper; died Edinburgh 25 January 1994.

JOHN PEARCE was the last all-purpose clinical psychiatrist: for him a single day's work might include psychoanalysing a disturbed child, preparing a Court report on an offender, administering psychological tests to an elderly patient and assessing their significance, working out a treatment plan for a wildly manic woman, counselling a girl who had taken an overdose of aspirin and giving genetic advice to a couple who had a child with severe learning difficulties. During the 1950s and 1960s, while working at St Mary's Hospital, Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children, the Royal Masonic Hospital and in his Harley Street practice, he was very probably the only psychiatrist in London with such a wide range of clinical interest and ability.

Jack Pearce was born in Edinburgh in 1904; his father was an English cloth merchant and his mother - her maiden name was Dalziel - a pure Scot. Doubtless, his mother's firmly established Highland roots - she was descended from Robert MacGregor ('Rob Roy', the 18th-century Jacobite outlawed by the English) - nourished Pearce's love of his native country throughout his life.

Pearce was educated in Edinburgh at George Watson's College and at the University Medical School, obtaining his MA at the age of 19 in 1923. He qualified as a doctor in 1927 - one of a group of distinguished students, including his lifelong friend John McMichael, who were to make their names in London. After house appointments at the Royal Infirmary and at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, he left Edinburgh to work in English mental hospitals, first in Kent and then in Leicester, proceeding, in 1933, to his Doctorate of Medicine and Membership of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh; his thesis assessed the significance of personality in the cause of mental illness.

In 1936, Pearce came to London to take up appointments at Stamford House Remand Home, the Tavistock Clinic and the West End Hospital for Nervous Diseases, and to establish a Harley Street practice. When the Second World War started, he volunteered for the RAMC and was commissioned as a major, one of seven command psychiatrists under Brigadier JR Rees. In 1942 he was promoted lieutenant-colonel and posted as Officer Commanding Northfield Military Hospital; in 1944 he was sent overseas as Adviser in Psychiatry, Allied Force Headquarters, Central Mediterranean Forces; he was mentioned in despatches.

On demobilisation in September 1945 he returned to his pre-war work in London and, by taking on new commitments and giving up old ones, he concentrated his efforts on St Mary's Hospital and Medical School, Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children, the Royal Masonic Hospital (he became a Grand Lodge Officer) and his own practice.

Pearce made a number of important contributions to medical literature, particularly a textbook, Juvenile Delinquency (1952). He pointed out then that there was no scientific evidence that punishment had any beneficial effect on the anti-social behaviour of delinquents. He was much against the judicial birching that was practised when he first became involved with delinquents, and his book mentions the even more barbaric capital punishment inflicted on children as young as eight years of age a century previously. At present, when the importance of punishment is being increasingly debated, Pearce's views seem very relevant.

Jack Pearce was a kind, soft-spoken, understanding man who was more interested in listening to what others had to say than in talking himself; that was one of the reasons he was such a good psychiatrist. But he had many interests outside medicine and sometimes could be persuaded to speak about them. He was a great traveller and the mention of a holiday trip to almost anywhere - perhaps to a remote Pyrenean valley, or a small town in British Columbia or an Italian village near Sorrento - would often elicit a story, usually amusing, about one of his visits there. He was a keen golfer (from the age of four until he was 80), an accomplished water-colour painter and he enjoyed fishing, curling and - particularly when he and his second wife, Elizabeth, holidayed in their croft house on the west coast of Sutherland - baking his own bread.

In 1988, the pull of his birthplace - always strong - became irresistible and he moved back to Edinburgh after an exile of 60 years.

(Photograph omitted)

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

HR Assistant / Human Resources Assistant

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: An HR Assistant / Human Resources Ass...

Talent Community Coordinator

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Talent Community Coordinator is nee...

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little