Davey, Thomas Frank, C.B.E., M.Sc., M.D., Ch.B. (1908-1983)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

THOMAS FRANK DAVEY, C.B.E., M.Sc., M.D., Ch.B.: born in London on 26th March 1908. He received his ministerial training at Hartley Victoria College and his medical training at Manchester University where he gained a master’s degree in science and a doctorate in medicine. Ordained in 1935, he served from 1936 as Superintendent of the Methodist Leprosy Settlement at Uzuakoli in the Eastern Nigeria District. There he developed the Leprosy Settlement into one of the foremost institutions of its kind in West Africa. In 1939 he married Kay Barnes who had been serving as a W.W. missionary teacher, and together they developed a caring partnership of understanding, warmth and happiness that brought renewal of life to countless patients, friends and colleagues. 

Through his pioneer work in treatment, research, surveys and control measures, Frank was instrumental in reducing leprosy over a wide area of Iboland to minimal proportions, and this remarkable service was recognised by his appointment as Senior Leprosy Officer to the Nigerian Government and the award of the C.B.E.

For eight years he served with distinction as Medical Secretary of the Methodist Missionary Society and became a founder member of the Christian Medical Commission, the medical wing of the World Council of Churches, on which he represented the British Missionary Societies. Then he returned to his ministry to leprosy sufferers in another continent when, for five years, he became Director of the Victoria Leprosy Hospital at Dichpalli in South India. This enabled him to help the Indian Medical Service with its anti-leprosy planning and to serve as Chairman of the leprosy work associated with Vellore Christian Medical College at Karigiri.

A distinguished leprologist with a world-wide reputation, he was joint editor of the standard text book on leprosy, a familiar figure and lecturer at International Leprosy Congresses, and editor of the international journal Leprosy Review. With two co-editors he had nearly completed a new book telling the stories which excited him, and will no doubt excite many others, of the points of break-through made by medical missionaries down the years and around the world in their ministry to suffering people everywhere. 

In retirement at Emsworth he continued with these and other enthusiasms: painting, music, ecumenical partnerships and pastoral counselling, with the wholehearted support of Kay and to the delight and gratitude of all his friends there and around the world. He died on 24th March 1983 in the seventy-fifth year of his age and the fifty-first year of his ministry.


Thomas was born on 26 March 1908 at London, to parents Thomas William, a clerk at the Board of Trade (1911), and Alice Ada.

He married Kathleen (Kay) Barnes (1904-1996) in 1939.

Thomas died on 24 March 1893 at Emsworth, Hampshire.


  • Hartley
  • 1935 London Mission Society
  • 1936 E Nigeria
  • 1959 Med Sec Mis S
  • 1968 Church of South India


Methodist Minutes 1983/59

W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

There is a biography written by Geoffrey R. Senior in the series ‘People called Methodists

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