S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Mursell, Dr Henry Temple (surgery, urology)

Born: 24 November 1865, Manchester, United Kingdom.
Died: 2 October 1936, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Henry Temple Mursell (sometimes Temple-Mursell, Henry), surgeon and urologist, was the son of Reverend Arthur Mursell and his wife Louisa Ann, born Read. After his education at Mill Hill School he studied at University College, London but continued his medical studies at the University of Edinburgh. He qualified as Bachelor of Medicine (MB) and Master of Surgery (CM) in 1889. Subsequently he became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (1893), Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England (MRCS, 1896), and Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians of London (LRCP, 1896). After qualifying he worked as resident surgeon at Ancoats Hospital in Manchester (1890-1891), Queen's Hospital in Birmingham (1895-1895), for a year at St Peter's Hospital for Stone and Urinary Diseases in London, and in several other positions.

Mursell first came to South Africa in 1900 to serve as a civil surgeon with the British forces during the Anglo Boer War (1899-1902). Returning to England in 1901 he was awarded the Queen's medal with three clasps, married Helen Foggo Thomson (they had no surviving children) and resumed his practice in Harley Street, London. However, in 1902 he came to South Africa again, was registered to practice in the Transvaal Colony that same year, and settled in Johannesburg. There he remained for the rest of his career and, partly owing to his geniality and charm of manner, built up a considerable practice. During World War I (1914-1918) he served in the South African Defence Force. From 1918 he held the position of honorary assistant surgeon to the Johannesburg General Hospital and later became the hospital's senior honorary urologist. He served as honorary senior lecturer in urology and senior lecturer in clinical surgery to the University of the Witwatersrand, and examiner in surgery to the University of Cape Town. He was also a consulting surgeon to the Defence Force of the Union of South Africa with the rank of lieutenant-colonel, a position from which he retired in 1925.

Mursell published many papers on surgery, particularly genito-urinary surgery, in the British Medical Journal, the Lancet, the Medical Journal of South Africa, the South African Medical Record, the British Journal of Surgery, and the Transvaal Medical Journal. The latter journal published, among others, a review paper he read before the surgical section of the South African Medical Congress in 1910, "Urinary stone: Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment..." (1910/1, Vol. 6, pp. 98-106). He is recognised as the pioneer of urological surgery in the Transvaal and through his publications attained a world-wide reputation. From 1890 he was a member of the British Medical Association, serving as president of its Transvaal Branch in 1909/10, and by 1905 was honorary secretary of the Transvaal Medical Association. Later he became a member of the International Urological Society. He was honoured as an officer and as a member of the Order of the British Empire (OBE, MBE).

Shortly after his arrival in South Africa Mursell was appointed chairman of the Religious Instruction in Schools Commission of the Transvaal Colony. The Report of the Religious Instruction in Schools Commission... was published in Pretoria in 1905.

List of sources:
Medical, dental and pharmacy register for the Transvaal, 1907.

Medical, dental and pharmacy directory of South Africa, 1926/7.

Men of the times: Pioneers of the Transvaal and glimpses of South Africa. Johannesburg: Transvaal Publishing Company, 1905.

Mursell, IOW, 23 October 2012, p. 40. Retrieved from https://woottonbridgeiow.org.uk/genealogy/mursell.pdf on 2018-12-10.

National Archives Repository (TAB), Source MHG, Vol. 0, Ref. 94837: death notice, Henry Temple Mursell.

National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System (NAAIRS). http://www.national.archives.gov.za/naairs.htm Documents relating to Temple-Mursell, Henry / Lieutenant-colonel Temple-Mursell / Lieutenant-colonel H.T. Mursell.

National Union Catalogue, pre-1956 imprints. London: Mansell, 1968-1980.

Obituary: Dr H.T. Mursell. Tydskrif vir Geneeskunde, 14 November 1936, pp. 759-760.

Obituary: H. Temple Mursell. British Medical Journal, 14 November 1936, p. 1006.

Pietermaritzburg Archives Repository (NAB), Vol. NMC 34: List of medical practitioners, dentists, chemists and druggists... [in the Transvaal Province, as on 31 December 1914].

Transvaal Medical Journal 1908/9, Vol. 4 and 1910/1, Vol. 6: Papers by Mursell.

Compiled by: C. Plug