- A dictionary of medical eponyms

James Purdon Martin

Born  1893
Died  1984

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British physician, born June 11, 1893, near Jordanstown, County Antrim, Ulster, Ireland; died 1984, National Hospital for Nervous Diseases, Queen Square, London.

Biography of James Purdon Martin

James Purdon Martin was born on a farm near Jordanstown, County Antrim, Ulster, Ireland and grew up in Belfast and later, in Bangor nearby. He first studied modern languages at Queen's University, Belfast, but changed to mathematics, and later to medicine.

Following graduation in 1920 he interned in Liverpool, where a large number of patients with post encephalitic sequelae of the influenza epidemic prompted his interest in the pathophysiology of the brain. He first came to The National as a house physician in 1921. In 1922 he married Majorie Blandy, the first woman registrar at the National Hospital. The marriage was kept secret at first, because at that time women could not keep their jobs when they married. After nearly 2 years at The National, Martin felt he needed to broaden his medical experience and in 1923 he took an appointment as registrar at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington,

In 1925 he returned to The National Hospital for Nervous Diseases, Queen Square, when he was appointed to the Honorary Staff. This became his life-long affiliation. However, he also held consultant posts at the Hammersmith, Bollingbroke and Whipps Cross Hospitals. During World War II, Martin served as a neurologist. Following his retirement from the National Hospital in 1959, he spent a year as visiting professor at the University of Colorado, Denver, USA.

His first wife died in 1937 and ten years later he married Janet Ferguson, whom he had known since his days as a student of mathematics in Belfast. He died in the National Hospital in 1984.

Among his activities after retirement, in 1960 he started studies on the group of post-encephalitic patients in the Highlands Hospital in North Finchley, who were survivors from the outbreak in 1919. These studies resulted in his book "The Basal Ganglia and Posture".

We thank Chris J. B. Martin for information submitted. He is the son of James Purdon Martin and Majorie Blandy.


  • The Basal Ganglia and Posture. Pitman Medical Publishing Co Ltd, 1967.

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