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O'REILLY, John Noel (1904-1989)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0113 MS-OREIJ
Held at: Royal College of Physicians
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Full title: O'REILLY, John Noel (1904-1989)
Date(s): [1936]-[1990] (mostly [1936]-c.1965)
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 5 files
Name of creator(s): O'Reilly | John Noel | 1904-1989 | paediatrician


Administrative/Biographical history:

John Noel O'Reilly was born on 15 December 1904, in Oxford, where his father was a civil servant. He was educated at the City of Oxford School and then in 1923 entered Jesus College, Oxford, as a mathematics exhibitioner, where he was a keen athlete. After becoming interested in natural sciences he chose to study medicine. He studied at the Middlesex Hospital Medical School in London, where he had a distinguished academic career. He became a licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians in 1929, and qualified BM BCh in 1930.

O'Reilly became a member of the Royal College of Physicians in 1932, and qualified MD from Oxford in 1936. He obtained a Medical Research Council travelling fellowship and went to Vienna, Heidelberg, and Munich to study tuberculosis in children. After returning to England he held registrar posts at the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, before becoming consultant paediatrician to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in the East End of London in 1934.

During the Second World War he was found to be unfit for service in the Armed Forces, due to having undergone gastrectomy. He became medical superintendent and physician of an Army hospital, from 1940-43.

In 1943 he was appointed consultant paediatrician to St Helier Hospital, Carshalton, where he remained for 25 years. He was responsible for starting one of the earliest premature baby units in the United Kingdom. His hard work and high standards enabled the paediatric unit of the hospital to thrive, amongst an underprivileged population that had recently been re-housed from London's East End. He was an inspiration to many junior staff, and it has been said that he `inspired confidence in his excellent medical skills and related well to children' (Munk's Roll, 1994, p.400).

He simultaneously held appointments as paediatrician at several hospitals, including the Croydon General Hospital, whose staff he joined in 1946. In 1966 he became a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians.

He married Doreen Daly, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at St Helier's Hospital, in 1955. After retirement they travelled extensively and learnt Spanish, to add interest to their travels. O'Reilly suffered with diabetes towards the end of his life, and died at the age of 84 on 10 October 1989.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of John Noel O'Reilly, [1936]-c.1965, including his DM thesis on pulmonary tuberculosis in childhood, [1936], and lecture notes on cases of high explosive blast injuries, 1940-41, infantile cortical hyperostosis, [1948], periodic syndrome, with case notes, [1953]-c. mid 1950s, and advances in the care of the new-born, c.1965, with note by Doreen Daly, O'Reilly's widow, [1990].

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

All requests should be referred to the Archivist

Finding aids:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Donated to the College by Dr Doreen Daly, O'Reilly's widow, through Herbert Barrie, on 5 February 1990

Allied Materials

Related material:

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Sources: Lives of the Fellows of the Royal College of Physicians of London, continued to 1993, Vol. IX, Valerie Luniewska (ed.) (London, 1994) [Munk's Roll, 1994, pp.399-400]; `Obituary - J.N. O'Reilly', British Medical Journal, Vol. 299, 9 December 1989 [BMJ, 1989, p.1460].
Compiled by Katharine Martin

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives, Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Compiled November 2003

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