Hildred Carlill’s name lives on at Westminster Hospital in the John Burford Carlill Pathological Laboratory, which was provided through the munificence of his uncle. He was the son of Stephen Green Carlill, a merchant of London, and entered Guy’s Hospital from Harrow and St. John’s College, Cambridge. Following the posts of house physician and house surgeon at Guy’s and of resident medical officer to Victoria Park Hospital, he studied in 1912 at the Mayo Clinic and under Kitasato in Japan. In World War I he saw almost five years’ service with the Royal Navy as a surgeon lieutenant, the last three as neurologist and psychiatrist at Haslar Hospital. He was then appointed assistant physician to Westminister Hospital. In little over one year, at the age of thirty-seven, he was full physician to the Hospital. Such rapid promotion seems to have made him somewhat uncertain about his future, for he spread his interests to general medicine as physician to the Belgrave Hospital for Children and the General and Seamen’s Hospitals at Greenwich, and followed his bent for nervous diseases only as physician to the West End Hospital, probably as Sir James Purvis Stewart then dominated the neurological activities at Westminister. Under the then rules of the Hospital he had to retire in 1940 at the age of fifty-eight; he lived only two years longer at Tavistock, where he worked in a modified general practice.
Carlill published very little. In his Hunterian lecture to the Royal College of Surgeons in 1918 on syphilitic disease of the nervous system (Lancet, 1918, 1, 243-50) he pleaded that syphilis should be considered seriously as the basic cause in every disease of the nervous system, but later his interests were centred almost entirely on functional diseases and the uses of hypnosis in its treatment. Unfortunately his obsession with such studies got him involved in acrimonious discussions, so that his innate, deep honesty and conscientiousness were hidden from all his colleagues except the few who knew his worth.
In 1922 he married Mildred Constance Godfrey, the daughter of Henry Godfrey, a company chairman. They had one son and two daughters. Apart from a passionate love of the sea his only hobby was his work.
Richard R Trail
[Brit.med.J., 1942, 1, 568; Broadway, 1941-3, 9, 51-2; Lancet, 1942, 1, 521.]