A. G. Barrs, the son of John Barrs of Leicester, was educated at his local grammar school. For his medical training he went to Guy’s Hospital and Edinburgh University, graduating as M.B. in 1875. After holding junior appointments at Guy’s, he settled in Leeds in 1879 and was elected to the honorary staff of the Public Dispensary. In 1884 Leeds General Infirmary appointed him assistant physician, and eight years later he was made full physician. Having acted as demonstrator of physiology at the Leeds Medical School, he was made professor of medicine at Leeds University (then Yorkshire College) in 1899. In 1910 he vacated this chair to become professor of clinical medicine, and in 1921, on retiring, he was given the title of emeritus professor of medicine. He was the University’s first representative on the General Medical Council. On the outbreak of war in 1914, he was given charge of the medical division of the 2nd Northern General Hospital with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. Barrs was one of the first to affirm the tuberculous origin of many pleural effusions. As his editorship of Braithwaite’s Retrospect of Medicine bore witness, he regarded extravagant theories and unproven hypotheses with scepticism and delighted to expose faulty reasoning and pretentious verbiage. But he was always the friend of truth and genuineness. He was a popular figure both in the wards and as chairman of the Leeds Club. Barrs married a daughter of Henry Nelson, solicitor, of Leeds; there were no children of the marriage.
G H Brown
[Lancet, 1934; B.M.J., 1934; Presidential Address to R.C.P., 1934, 11]