Erasmus Darwin Barlow

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Erasmus Darwin Barlow, FRCPsych, FZS (15 April 1915 – 2 August 2005) was a British psychiatrist, physiologist and businessman.

Born in London in 1915, he was the second son of Sir Alan Barlow, son of Sir Thomas Barlow, royal physician. His mother was Lady Nora Barlow, daughter of Sir Horace Darwin. He was a great-grandson of the naturalist Charles Darwin. He was named after his great-great-great-grandfather Erasmus Darwin. His elder brother was Commodore Sir Thomas Erasmus Barlow, a younger brother is Horace Barlow.[1]

He was educated at Marlborough College, and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied medicine. He also studied at University College London.[citation needed] He married Brigit Ursula Hope Black (known as Biddy), daughter of the author Ladbroke Black in 1938.[2] They had three children:

Barlow was senior lecturer and honorary consultant in psychological medicine at St Thomas’s Hospital Medical School (1951–66), vice chairman of the Mental Health Research Fund, and a member of the scientific staff of the MRC Department of Clinical Research, University College Hospital. He was chairman of the Bath Institute of Medical Engineering and an enthusiastic founding member of the Erasmus Darwin Foundation at Lichfield. He was also, at various times, chairman of the Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company (CIC)[6][7] - the firm founded by his maternal grandfather,[8] and a director of CIC Investment Holdings, deputy chairman of George Kent Ltd and a director of Group Investors Ltd.[2]

Barlow published research papers in physiology and psychiatric medicine.[2] Additionally, he was a Founder Fellow of the Zoological Society of London and its Secretary between 1980 and 1982.[9] In 2008 the society started the Erasmus Darwin Barlow Conservation Expeditions named in his honour.[10]

Barlow was also a trustee for over 20 years of the Barlow Collection of Oriental art collected by his father. In 1997 Barlow, along with his brother Sir Thomas Barlow, 3rd Baronet, were both awarded honorary Doctors of Letters degrees by the University of Sussex, who were bequeathed the Barlow Collection in 1968 on the death of Sir Alan [11]

Barlow died in Cambridge from renal failure in 2005.

Selected publications

  • BARLOW ED, POCHIN EE. Slow recovery from ischaemia in human nerves. Clin Sci (Lond). 1948 Feb 16;6(4):303-17
  • BARLOW ED, HOWARTH S Effects on blood pressure of ventricular asystole during Stokes-Adams attacks and acetylcholine injections. Br Med J. 1953 Oct 17;2(4841):863-4
  • SHARPEY-SCHAFER EP, HAYTER CJ, BARLOW ED Mechanism of acute hypotension from fear or nausea. Br Med J. 1958 Oct 11;2(5101):878-80
  • BARLOW ED, DE WARDENER HE, Compulsive water drinking. Q J Med. 1959 Apr;28(110):235-58


  1. Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, 107th edition
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Obituary in British Medical Journal.
  4. ‘WHITWORTH-JONES, Anthony’, Who's Who 2011, A & C Black, 2011; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2010 ; online edn, Oct 2010 accessed 26 May 2011
  5. Yorke, Malcolm (2002). Mervyn Peake: my eyes mint gold : a life. Overlook Press. p. 324. ISBN 1-58567-211-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "I back Cambridge". The Spectator. 220. 1968. p. 539.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. The Consulting Engineer. 24. 1963. p. 207. Missing or empty |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Cattermole, Michael J. G.; Wolfe, Arthur F. (1987). Horace Darwin's shop: a history of the Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company, 1878 to 1968. A. Hilger. ISBN 0-85274-569-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Zuckerman, Solly (1988). Monkeys, men and missiles: an autobiography 1946-88. Collins. p. 89. ISBN 0-00-217501-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Professional and academic associations
Preceded by
Ron Hedley
Secretary of the
Zoological Society of London

Succeeded by
John Guest Phillips