Leslie Everton Hurley (1893-1967)                                              

Physician and Lecturer

From the Australian Dictionary of Biography:

Written by Diane Langmore

Leslie Everton Hurley (1893-1967), physician, was born on 28 January 1893 at Everton, Victoria, fourth son of Thomas Hurley state school teacher, and his wife Mary Elizabeth Scholes, both Victorian born. Educated at various primary schools determined by his father’s postings, he won scholarships to Wesley College, and to Queen’s College, University of Melbourne. 

Like his elder brother Victor, Leslie Hurley gained exhibitions in completing his Leaving certificate. In 1911 he entered the University of Melbourne (M.B., B.S., 1917; M.D., 1919; M.S., 1920) where he competed in Queen's College's cricket, football and athletic teams, and won a Blue for lacrosse. 

Senior Anatomy Class, Melbourne University 1913, Les is 3rd from the left of the seated row. Source: Harry Brookes Allen Museum of Anatomy and Pathology University of Melbourne                                                                                                                                     

On 11 September 1914 he enlisted in the A.I.F. He sailed for the Middle East next month and served at Gallipoli in April-July 1915 with the 2nd Field Ambulance. Sent home to complete his medical course, he gained first-class honours in all subjects and won every exhibition in his final year. 


Leslie Hurley at Gallipoli. Source: Claire Weston                                                                                                   

He was discharged from the A.I.F. on 16 May 1916. At All Saints Church of England, Clayton, on 15 October 1917 he married Margaret Muriel Atkinson, a nurse.

Following a residency at the (Royal) Melbourne Hospital, he became lecturer (from 1923 senior lecturer) in embryology and histology at the university. (Sir) Albert Coates, one of his students, wrote:

'Diagnosis based on a meticulous interrogation of the patient, the social and family background, painstaking physical examination and then, a resort to special investigation—this was to Leslie Hurley a sacred trust. With no empirical humbug, perhaps less bedside manner than some affected, he was a pioneer in scientific medicine’. 

From 1924 Hurley was also physician to out-patients at the (Royal) Melbourne Hospital. In 1933, as his practice as a consulting physician burgeoned, he resigned his university appointment. He was made physician to in-patients in 1935.

During and after World War II he was a part-time consultant to the R.A.A.F., practising in the air force hospitals at Laverton and Heidelberg and rising to group captain. While Victor was away, Leslie took over his consulting rooms in Parliament Place; on his return, they practised there together. In 1947-48 Leslie was Stewart lecturer in medicine at the university. He continued his work at the R.M.H. until 1951; Coates predicted that his piercing voice and aphorisms would long be remembered in its corridors.

A devoted family man, Hurley had enjoyed camping holidays with his five daughters and two sons, and trout fishing with his wife. She died in 1945. At Scots Church, Melbourne, on 13 December 1947 he married with Presbyterian forms Olive Marion Johnson, a secretary. He had little interest in social activities outside the family, but did play a weekly game of golf—with more enthusiasm than skill—until prevented by the onset of a long illness which forced him to give up his practice in 1966. Survived by his wife and by the children of his first marriage, he died on 23 May 1967 at Richmond and was cremated.

Leslie and Muriel Hurley and children

Leslie, Muriel and family. Back from left: Douglas, Muriel, Leslie, Jean and Mary.                Front from left: Ron, Winifred (an Anglican nun), Dorothy and Claire. (pre-1945).                      Source: Claire Weston

Also, from his daughter Claire Weston:

Leslie’s neighbours in Murrumbeena were the Boyd family of artists. Leslie would take their pottery in his car to George’s department store in the city. He would also invite the Boyd children in to play his piano and his children and the Boyds played back yard cricket together.

And from Joan McLaren, a nurse and family friend of Les:

Les was a lovely man, humble and generous and all the nurses loved him. He played billiards at home, was very slim and never dressed up. There is a ceramic sculpture of his daughter Mary by Merric Boyd.