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Hone, Frank Sandland (1871–1951)

by Neville Hicks

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

Frank Sandland Hone (1871-1951), medical practitioner, was born on 7 January 1871 at Mount Gambier, South Australia, son of Nathaniel Johnson Hone, Baptist clergyman, and his wife Emily, née Sandland. He was educated at Prince Alfred College, where he gained a university exhibition, and at the University of Adelaide (B.A., 1889; M.B., B.S., 1894). In 1895 he began medical practice at Morphett Vale, transferred to a suburban general practice at Semaphore in 1903, and began consultant work as a North Terrace physician in 1919.

Hone's practice was not very lucrative, being conducted initially among the less affluent and later in competition with his medico-political and muscular Christian interests, work for child welfare and efforts to establish an anti-cancer committee. He was prominent in the Student Christian Movement at the university and in the Baptist Union of South Australia, being president in 1935 and at other times chairman of the Home Mission and of the Baptist Brotherhood, which failed to respond to his energy.

Hone was president of the South Australian branch of the British Medical Association in 1911 and a founding director of the Australasian Medical Publishing Co. Ltd, which published the Medical Journal of Australia, from 1914. He emphasized that the chief pursuits of professional bodies should be scientific inquiry and the advancement of public health, not political power; half a century before it happened he warned of the eventual alienation of public sympathy from a self-interested profession. He also recognized that effective medicine must deal with social and preventive questions as well as individual curative ones, and saw no inconsistency in associating himself and his profession with government in policy-making and administration. Hone supported Thomas Borthwick in the effort to give Adelaide an effective public health administration, was chief quarantine officer for South Australia from 1915 to 1930, did yeoman service at the quarantine station during the epidemic of Spanish influenza of 1918-19 and became a council-member of the Commonwealth School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine established in Sydney in 1930.

He was appointed a member of the Commonwealth royal commission on national health in 1925. The links between clinical and preventive medicine and between government and medical practitioners were articulated in the Report in 1926 which proposed a network of local, district, regional and State facilities and clinicians to provide services directed towards an improvement of maternal, infant and occupational health. According to John Cumpston, whose praise Hone earned without sharing Cumpston's more doctrinaire views, Hone was 'the spirit of enterprise' in the commission. The commission's vision of a national health service did not prevail against the advocates of a government-guaranteed private medical service. In 1948, when medical politics was degenerating into a fight about medical economics, Hone said that 'those of us who have for years fought for the value of prevention rather than of remedial measures as the keynote to modern medical ideas cannot but oppose proposals to substitute medical benefits for preventive benefits'.

In 1921 Hone was appointed lecturer in preventive medicine in the University of Adelaide. He taught a generation of medical students who regarded him affectionately and who made him president, for a time, of their society. A student when Australian medical schools were staffed by men like (Sir) Harry Allen, (Sir) Edward Stirling, (Sir) Anderson Stuart and (Sir) Joseph Verco, who were young enough to have acquired in Britain and Europe the ascendant experimentalists' interest in specific causation of disease, Hone had learned to emphasize the proper understanding of aetiology as the basis for prevention and added to this an earlier nineteenth-century interest in the social significance of disease. The product was a spirit of purposeful observation which is evident in a number of his papers, including his studies on the vector of typhus fever, which Sir Macfarlane Burnet has ranked with Maxcy's study. Hone transmitted the traditions of careful description and social concern to students and colleagues, most notably in C. C. Jungfer's study of Child Health in a Rural Community (1944).

A keen sportsman, Hone excelled at cricket and tennis; he won the South Australian men's doubles lawn tennis championship in 1891, served on the University Sports Association for nearly thirty years and was chairman of the South Australian Amateur Football League, 1927-33. He was also active in the Red Cross Society and Crippled Children's Association. A member of the university council for twenty-nine years, he was appointed C.M.G. in 1941.

Hone died at an Adelaide private hospital on 9 May 1951 and was buried in West Terrace cemetery. He was survived by his wife Lucy, née Henderson, whom he had married on 6 May 1896 at the Flinders Street Baptist church, Adelaide and by four sons and two daughters. Tributes in the Medical Journal of Australia reflected accurately a physician who had combined scientific intelligence with humanity and social purpose. Two of his sons became medical practitioners and (Sir) Brian William Hone was a distinguished educationist.

Select Bibliography

  • Medical Journal of Australia, 22 June 1951
  • Adelaide Medical Students' Society, Review, May 1949
  • papers held by author.

Citation details

Neville Hicks, 'Hone, Frank Sandland (1871–1951)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.online.anu.edu.au/biography/hone-frank-sandland-6723/text11611, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 17 October 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

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