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

Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker