Allison, Richard Sydney (1899–1978), neurologist and historian, was born 15 May 1899 in Belfast to William and Eliza Allison, and attended RBAI and QUB. Before completing his course (1921) he spent a year as an RNVR surgeon probationer on a destroyer and another year in the Far East on a merchant ship. He became houseman in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast (1923); as assistant physician in Ruthin Castle, north Wales (1925–30), he made an epidemiological study of multiple sclerosis, on which he became a leading authority. He returned to the Royal Victoria in 1930; served 1939–45 as acting surgeon-captain, retiring from the RNVR as surgeon-commander (1950); and after the war became a full-time neurologist, interested in organic mental states. His presidential address (1962) to the neurology section of the Royal Society of Medicine was on the effect of geographical latitude on multiple sclerosis, reflecting his work as visiting professor at the Medical College of South Carolina, USA, and Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada. On retirement, he became honorary archivist to the Royal Victoria, and wrote on medical history until his death (27 April 1978). His publications included Sea diseases . . . (1943); The senile brain (1962); The seeds of time: a history of Belfast General (Royal) Hospital 1850–1903 (1972); The very faculties (1969) (on ophthalmology and otorhinolaryngology in Belfast); HMS Caroline: a history of the Ulster Division, RNVR (1974); and The surgeon probationers (1979). He was joint editor of Whitla's Dictionary of treatment (8th ed. 1938; 9th ed. 1957). He married (1925) Elizabeth N. B. Steen, who illustrated some of his historical books; they had two daughters and a son. He is commemorated in Belfast by the annual Allison lecture and prize.
J. H. D. Millar, obit., British Medical Jn., 27 May 1978, 1427–8; Lyons, Brief lives, 26; WWW