John Murray Bligh was born in Liverpool and was the son of Alexander Murray Bligh, MRCS, a Liverpool general practitioner, and Mary Agnes Bligh, née Brady. He was educated at Castleknock College, Dublin, and Liverpool University College. Here, in 1902, he was the last president of the Student Representative Council before it became the Guild of Undergraduates of the new University. He was a house surgeon at the Liverpool Royal Infirmary in 1905 and later held junior posts at the Northern Hospital and the Infirmary for Children. He was Holt Fellow in Pathology at the University in 1906 and Thelwall Thomas Fellow in Surgical Pathology in 1908. In 1913 he was awarded the J.W. Garrett International Fellowship in Bacteriology. His writings at this time included papers on mongolism and the bacteriological diagnosis of typhoid, and he made an authorized translation from the French of Professor C. Richet’s monograph on Anaphylaxis.
His earliest consultant appointment was as honorary assistant physician to the Liverpool Infirmary for Children, later incorporated into the Royal Liverpool Children’s Hospital. For a time he held a similar position at the Liverpool Stanley Hospital. In 1916 he was elected honorary assistant physician at the David Lewis Northern Hospital, to which he became full physician in 1918.
He saw war service, first in France and then in Mesopotamia, where he was with No. 12 Indian General Hospital with the rank of captain. The war over, he was quickly caught up in a busy consulting practice with a major teaching commitment at the Northern and Children’s Hospitals. He was consulting physician to several voluntary hospitals and other charities, including the Southport Infirmary, the Lourdes Hospital and the Royal Liverpool Babies’ Hospital. He was also visiting physician to Belmont Road and Ormskirk County Hospitals. His university posts were those of clinical lecturer in medicine and in diseases of children. He held several offices in the Liverpool Medical Institution and was elected president in 1934. He was editor of The Liverpool Medico-Chirurgical Journal until 1948. He was a member of the Association of Physicians and of the British Paediatric Association. From 1935 to 1948 he was master of the Guild of St. Luke and SS. Cosmas and Damian. Retirement from his hospitals came in 1939, but he returned to the Children’s Hospital from 1941 to 1945 while members of the consultant staff were away on war service.
Murray Bligh was primarily a bedside physician. All the technical procedures which were regarded as necessary in his earlier days he undertook himself, and these included rib-resection for empyema. His students valued his incisive and dogmatic teaching. He was an individualist who was prone to react strongly to opposition. At the same time he had much personal charm and he was loyal to his hospitals and his friends. He was a polished speaker, whose classical allusions and sense of occasion lent further colour to a vigorous personality. He was proud of his Irish descent and returned again and again to the Irish rivers to pursue his favourite recreation of fishing.
In 1926 he married Elizabeth Emily Underwood. They had three sons.
[Brit.med.J., 1968, 1, 845]