Family Lore

Morrison, Reginald Herbert ( – 1941)
M.D. (Edin.)
Gynaecologist, Medical Practitioner and Obstetrician
Transcription of item written by Dr Colin Macdonald and published in “The Book of Remembrance”, The Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne, 1956.

(1899 – 1925)
Reginald Herbert Morrison was a son of Dr. George Morrison, who founded Geelong College as a private school in 1861. It was there that “Reggie” Morrison, as he was universally known, was educated. Like many of his contemporaries, he studied medicine at Edinburgh University, graduating M.B. Ch.M. in 1888.
Returning to Melbourne about 1890, “Reggie” Morrison built up a large and successful general practice at Toorak. An interest in obstetrics and gynaecology soon became evident, and he joined the honorary staff of the Women’s Hospital in 1899. Over a long span of years he actively served this hospital, first as an obstetrician and later as a gynaecologist. In 1925, he was appointed an Honorary Gynaecological Surgeon.
In 1910 he relinquished general practice and, practising in Collins Street, confined himself solely to obstetrics and gynaecology. As senior surgeon to the Women’s Hospital, he succeeded Dr. Felix Meyer as lecturer in obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Melbourne, retiring from this appointment in 1926. He was recognised as a good lecturer.
Morrison was associated with the formation of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, of which he was a foundation Fellow, and was on the Victorian State Council of that College for several years.
Reginald Morrison was a member of a very distinguished family. His uncle was the famous Dr. Alexander Morrison, of Scotch College, Melbourne, and his brother, Dr. George Ernest, was “Chinese” or “Peking” Morrison, adviser to the Chinese Government at the time of the Boxer Rebellion, and an outstanding authority on that Country.
As a young man, “Reggie” Morrison was a magnificent athlete, excelling at cricket, football, swimming and as a middle-distance runner. He played senior football for the Geelong Club for two years and, whilst at Edinburgh, played international rugby for Scotland during three seasons.
He was an active member of the Melbourne Club, of which at one time he had the distinction of being president, and was also a member of the Rotary Club for a number of years. He was widely recognised as a very skilled exponent of the game of bridge.
Reginald Morrison had three sons of whom he was very proud. Though to be rather severe at times, beneath this exterior was a very kindly nature. He died in 1941
Archival/Heritage Resources
Royal Women’s Hospital Archives
• Book of Remembrance, 1956 – 1975; Royal Women’s Hospital Archives [ Details… ].
Prepared by: Robyn Waymouth
Created: 1 August 2006, Last modified: 27 November 2006

This biographical piece about ‘Reggie’ Morrison reminds me of family stories. My grandfather, Charles de Berigny, who was with the Imperial Maritime Customs Service in China under Inspector-General, Robert Hart, in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century, was a friend of Dr George Ernest Morrison. ‘Peking’ Morrison as he became known, gave my mother, Claire, a bracelet of Chinese figures, which she valued all her life, and she remembered him saying that his main form of transport was ‘Shanks’s pony’, which was true as he walked around most of China.

The piece about about ‘Reggie’ and another article I read about the famous medical missionary, Dr Sr Mary Glowrey JM, who gained a doctorate in medicine in 1919 at Melbourne University, her subjects of speciality were: ophthalmology, gynaecology and obstetrics. In the early 1920s my father, James Augustus Wall, also went up for an MD at Melbourne University with the same subjects, his major was gynaecology and obstetrics with his minor being ophthalmology. His main examiner for his major was ‘Reggie” Morrison. This at first was of some concern to him as previously when he had been a resident at the Women’s Hospital and Morrison the senior honorary, he had differed over a diagnosis. Morrison said a young woman was pregnant and the woman was sent to a home for unmarried mothers to await the birth, but my father dared to differ, and he said she had a cancerous growth. As things transpired my father’s diagnosis proved correct.

The procedure of the examination for an MD went along the lines that after various papers and exams in your major, candidates if successful in these would be called up for an oral examination. There are two versions for what followed. Because my father was not called up for an oral, he assumed that ‘old Reggie’ had failed him. Because of this, on being asked how he went in his major, while going through exams for his minor subject, he said he must have failed. Had he been able to say he had passed, he suspected the examiner for his minor subject would have been much more sympathetic. The other version is that he did not present himself for examination in his minor subject. He subsequently found out that ‘Reggie’ passed him without an oral. But he didn’t pass his minor subject, so no MD. ‘Reggie’ hadn’t done the dirty on my father, however, there was certainly a breakdown in communication between the two of them. ‘Such is life!’

Family lore might be of interest to others as well as to the family.

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