James W. Summerhayes, British physician, studied in Newcastle-upon-Tyne at a medical college affiliated to the University of Durham, and at St Mary's hospital, qualifying as Bachelor of Medicine (MB) with honours at the University of Durham in 1894. He was admitted as a member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England (MRCS) and as a licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians of London (LRCP) that same year. Four years later he qualified as Doctor of Medicine (MD) at the same university. He practiced in England for a few years, including a term as assistant house surgeon at the Nottingham General Hospital. During the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) he came to South Africa as a civil surgeon. After the war, in 1902, he was registered to practice medicine in the Transvaal Colony and settled in Turffontein, Johannesburg, for the rest of his life. He married Grace E. Alport around 1905, but they had no children. In 1906 her brother, Dr C. Alport, joined him in his practice.
Summerhayes took a keen interest in the scientific aspects of medicine. In 1905 he published a paper entitled "Effect of high frequency currents on bacteria", based on his own experiments, in the South African Medical Record (Vol. 3, pp. 182-186). He died of pneumonia.