Philip Janvrin Marett

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Adapted and abridged from Tony’s Musings

On 18 July 1913 the title of "Beit memorial Research Fellow" was conferred on Old Victoria Captain Philip Janvrin Marett (1879-1939), for his research work as to the nature of the virus of the sand fly fever in Malta. He was born in India, where his Jersey-born father, Colonel James Richard Marrett was serving, in 1879 and came to study in Jersey at Victoria College.

He won the French Medal while at the College and left in 1894 having won a scholarship to Westmister Hospital.

Medical Officer of Health

He eventually returned to Jersey as Medical Officer of Health, after a career in the army. He served in South Africa, joined the RAMC in 1905, becoming Captain In 1909, and Lt-Col during World War One.

While in Malta in 1910 he was given the task of researching the illness caused by sand flies. The illness, though not generally fatal, caused much sickness during the summer throughout the Mediterranean. In 1911, the number of service patients increased. Soldiers falling ill were principally those who had recently arrived on the island.

On 14 September 1914 he returned to England and soon he went to France with the British Expeditionary Force. He served with the BEF in Belgium and France, where he was responsible for the sanitary organization of the Rouen Base. In 1918 he was appointed as Consulting bacteriologist to the British Forces in Italy.

On 10 Oct 1918 he was invested with the French Legion of Honour, and Croix de Guerre. On 21 January 1921 he was invested with the Belgian Croix Civique, 1st Class, for distinguished services rendered during the course of the campaign.

On 25 Feb 1921 he retired from the Army and was appointed Medical Officer of Health for Jersey, an appointment he held for 18 years until failing health forced his resignation. During his tenure of office the public health department in Jersey was completely reorganized and brought up to date. The success of his efforts was reflected in the remarkable diminution in the incidence of diphtheria, and in the death rate from pulmonary tuberculosis.

In 1935, he is recorded as being President of the Southern Branch of the British Medical Association.

He died on 23 July 1939. He had married in 1904 and had three children. Some of his grandchildren still live in Jersey.


From A Biographical Dictionary of Jersey Philip Janvrin Marett (1879-1959), was a Lieut-Colonel in the RAMC, and a renowned bacteriologist.


The elder son of Col James R Marett and Fanny White, he was born in India in 1879 and educated at Cheltenham College, then at Victoria College (1894-977). He gained an entrance scholarship at Westminster Hospital, and qualified MRCS, LRCP. in 1904. He joined the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1905, and made bacteriology his special study.

He served in the South African War, and was twice stationed in Malta, where he did successful work on sand-fly fever.

At the outbreak of the First World War he went to France with the British Expeditionary Force, and was first responsible for the sanitary organization of the base at Rouen. Later he commanded a casualty clearing station in the forward area, and then was appointed Consulting Bacteriologist to the British Forces in Italy. Finally he became Sanitary Officer for the whole of France, and was awarded the Croix de Guerre.

After the war he left the Army for family reasons, and in 1922 became Medical Officer of Health for Jersey. He threw himself into this work with great energy, organizing a new Public Health Department and a States Bacteriological Laboratory, and training his staff to a state of high efficiency. Diphtheria cases dropped from 155 in 1922 to 9 in 1929, and this was largely due to his system of detecting and isolating carriers.

Another subject of which he made a special study was tuberculosis. This caused 69 deaths in 1922, but only 28 in 1937. He founded the Chest Clinic in 1931, and the fine Overdale Isolation Hospital was opened in 1934. He died in Bon Air Nursing Home on 25 July 1939, and was buried at St Saviour.

He married in 1904 Eliza Prangley, and left two sons, Philip Lee Prangley, of the RAF, and Rupert Richard Figus of the [Duke of] Wellington`s Regiment, and one daughter Violet Irene Mignon, wife of Ian P Henderson.

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