Dr Herbert Harvey Pinkerton

Personal Details

Dr Herbert Harvey Pinkerton

09/10/1901 to 21/07/1982

Place of birth: Belfast, Northern Ireland

Nationality: British

CRN: 715395

Also known as: Tony

Education and qualifications

General education

George Watson’s College, Edinburgh; High School Glasgow (his father was Rector); University of Glasgow, reading Engineering for a year before switching to Medicine, winning many prizes, graduating with honours and winning a blue for golf.

Primary medical qualification(s)

MB ChB (Hons), Glasgow, 1926

Initial Fellowship and type

FFARCS by Election

Year of Fellowship


Other qualification(s)

DA(RCP&S), 1938

Professional life and career

Postgraduate career

After two to three years in resident posts at the Western Infirmary in Glasgow Pinkerton entered general practice in the south east of the city. Administration of anaesthetics was very much a part of these posts, and after seven years he took up the specialty full time, obtaining postgraduate training with Dr John Challis at the London Hospital in 1936. On his return to Glasgow he was appointed visiting anaesthetist at the Western (honorarium £100 per annum), later acquiring similar appointments at the Royal Samaritan and Hairmyres Hospitals. Appointed a consultant at the inception of the NHS in 1948, he became consultant-in-charge of the department formed at the Western after he took a robust approach with the authorities (see Spence, 1995). He also became Lecturer in Anaesthetics to the University holding these appointments until retirement in 1966.

Professional interests and activities

Known as a superb clinician with a large private practice, he had a range of research interests in his early years, but is perhaps best known as a teacher, being an early advocate of structured training. Woe betide any trainee who did not appear on time for the weekly meeting, let alone the surgeon whose list obstructed that arrival! He also made contributions to the organisations of the specialty: first Secretary of the Glasgow & West Society, and its President for 1948/9; President of the Scottish Society, 1961; and President of the AAGBI, 1965/7, forming the Association’s trainee group, this reflecting his long-term interest in younger colleagues. He also served on the Board of Faculty and the Board of the BJA. He received the Faculty Medal un 1977 and was elected FCRPGlas in 19??.

Other biographical information

A man of style, Pinkerton was well known in Glasgow, notably in golfing circles, serving as President of the Glasgow Golf Club for 1959/60. He was married to Sheila, and they had two children: a son, a haematologist in Canada; and a daughter who predeceased him, as did his wife. The loss of his wife took its toll, but he remained active, and indeed attended the 1982 AGM of the Scottish Society just weeks before his death.

Author and Sources

Author: Prof Tony Wildsmith

Sources and any other comments: [1] Spence AA. Herbert Harvey Pinkerton. Proceedings of the History of Anaesthesia Society 1995; 17: 17-21 [2] Wishart HV et al. Obituary: Henry Harvey Pinkerton. Anaesthesia 1982; 37: 1143-5 [3] Spence AA. Obituary. Newsletter of the Scottish Society of Anaesthetists 1982; 23: 27-8 I thank Dr Peter Wallace for reviewing the script, and the AAGBI for the photograph.