S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Verney, Dr Frank Arthur (veterinary science)

Born: 3 March 1874, Blockley, Worcestershire, England.
Died: 16 March 1952, Kokstad, South Africa.

Frank Verney qualified (MRCVS) in July 1896 at the Royal Veterinary College, London, winning several medals and the Fitzwygram Prize as best veterinary student in the British Isles. A few months later, in October 1896, he was appointed to the Natal Civil Veterinary Department as one of four veterinarians appointed on the recommendation of the Stock Commission in view of the menacing rinderpest. He served in Estcourt and, from April 1899, in Eshowe. During 1897 he worked with H. Watkins-Pitchford* and Arnold Theiler* and published his experiences with rinderpest in the Journal of Comparative Pathology and Therapeutics (1898). In April 1898 he and O. Schwikkard were commissioned by the Natal government to investigate the rumour that cattle immunised with serum against rinderpest might succumb to further infection. During the Anglo-Boer war (1899-1902) he served as a lieutenant in the Natal Caribineers. He was with Buller's forces in the relief of Ladysmith and was awarded the Queen's Medal with three clasps. Still during the war, in October 1901, he received a permanent appointment as district veterinary surgeon, stationed at Mooi River. On 16 October 1902 he married Malvina Way, with whom he had three sons and two daughters.

During 1904-1907 Verney published several reports on stock diseases in the Natal Agricultural Journal, among others on heartwater and horse-sickness. He obtained an FRCVS in 1905 with a thesis on the latter disease. After conducting a series of experiments on the effect of frost on ticks, larval ticks and eggs of blue ticks, he reported his results in "The influence of frost on tick life" (Natal Agricultural Journal, 1907, Vol. 10, pp. 1550-1552).

In 1909 Verney became principle veterinary officer of Basutoland (now Lesotho), where he remained for the rest of his career. His most notable achievement in Lesotho was the eradication of sheep scab under difficult conditions, considering that supplies to erect dipping facilities had to be transported into the mountainous hinterland on pack donkeys. He also concerned himself with livestock improvement, particularly that of horses, and was a successful breeder of thoroughbreds. By 1910 he had become a member of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science. He was elected a member of council of the Transvaal Veterinary Medical Association in 1919 and in July that year read an unpublished paper before it on "Sterility among equines and bovines". When the South African Veterinary Medical Association was formed the next year he served as a member of its first council. In 1924 he became the first examiner in surgery at the newly established Faculty of Veterinary Science of the Transvaal University College (later the University of Pretoria) at Onderstepoort, illustrating his wide interest in a variety of disciplines. He retired in 1935 and went cattle farming in the Mt Currie district, KwaZulu-Natal. In 1932 he was honoured as a Companion of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).

List of sources:
Curson, H.H. The veterinary profession in South Africa... Journal of the South African Veterinary Medical Association, 1930, Vol. 1(4), pp. 3-22.

Curson, H.H. Theiler and the rinderpest epizootic of 1896-1903. Journal of the South African Veterinary Medical Association, 1936, Vol. 7(4), pp. 187-203.

Malherbe, D.F. du T. Family register of the South African nation (3rd ed.) Stellenbosch: Tegniek, 1966.

Natal [Colony]. Civil service list, 1906.

Natal [Colony]. Report of the Principal Veterinary Surgeon, 1902-1905/6.

Natal Agricultural Journal, 1904-1907, Vol. 7-10, articles by Verney.

National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System (NAAIRS). . Documents relating to Verney, Frank Arthur / Verney, F.A.

Obituary: Dr Frank Arthur Verney. Journal of the South African Veterinary Medical Association, 1952, Vol. 23(2), p. 120.

Posthumus, P.J. Past Veterinarians in South Africa (10th edition), Vol. 2, [1992].

South African Association for the Advancement of Science. Report, 1910, list of members.

South African who's who, 1923/4-1950.

Venter, R.J. Bibliography of regional meteorological literature. Vol. 1. Southern Africa, 1486-1948. Pretoria: Weather Bureau, 1949.

Verney, F.A. The Rinderpest in South Africa. Journal of Comparitive Pathology and Therapeutics, 1898, Vol. XI(2), pp. 96-103.

Verney, F.A. The Etiology of South African Horsesickness. FRCVS Thesis Collection, London, Series 1, No. 94, 1905.

Compiled by: D.W. Verwoerd